According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death in women and kills one in four women every year. Yet only 54 percent of women are aware of this statistic. And 65 percent of women who die from heart disease had no prior symptoms.
Having a heart attack can be a frightening experience for anyone. Fortunately, with the advances in medicine and technology, many heart attack victims have a very good chance of recovering. However, the odds of recovery appear to be higher for men than they are for women. This is because the significant differences in heart attacks symptoms between men and women may account for the high number of misdiagnoses by physicians of their female patients.
How has this conclusion been made? Multiple studies have examined the issue and have come to the same conclusion. In one major study conducted by a medical malpractice insurance company, the researchers examined closed malpractice claims against physicians who had either failed to diagnosis or misdiagnosed heart attacks and/or disease in female patients. The study found that that the patient died because of the doctor’s failure to recognize heart attack symptoms in more than 60 percent of the cases. Thirty-three percent of the women had muscle damage to their hearts from the attacks.
Although the emergency room is typically where most people think the failure to diagnose is originated, the study determined that in half of these cases it was the patient’s primary care physician who did not recognize the patient was suffering from heart disease. In almost 25 percent of the cases, it was a cardiologist who failed to make the diagnosis, and in just under 20 percent of the cases, it was an emergency room doctor.
In one case that was specifically cite in the study, a 45-year-old woman went to her primary care doctor complaining of a burning sensation occurring in her chest after she ate. The woman told her doctor that she had the same symptoms the day before and had been suffering from increased heartburn for several weeks. The woman was considered medically obese, had higher than normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels over the prior six months, as well as the day of her visit. She was also a smoker.
The doctor diagnosed the woman with heartburn and told her to take an antacid. Two days later, she called the doctor’s office complaining of a continuation of the same burning in her chest. The nurse told her to continue with the antacids and scheduled an office appointment for the next day. However, that night, the woman woke up with chest pains and vomiting. She was rushed to the hospital but died soon after arriving.
This case emphasizes how a doctor can be negligent in his care of a patient and is similar to what a Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer sees consistently in the cases we handle. Not only did the woman’s symptoms indicate something could be seriously wrong, the other factors that presented in this case, such as her weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and that she was a smoker, should have sent red flag warnings to her doctor and all medical staff treating her.
If a physician has failed to diagnose heart disease, or any other health condition, for you or someone in your family, contact an experienced Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer from Wieand Law Firm, LLC.