Massachusetts Legal Blog
The Failure to Diagnose Heart Disease
Massachusetts residents expect to receive the best possible medical care for any condition they may experience. However, on occasion inattentive health care professionals will misdiagnose or fail to diagnose a potentially life-threatening ailment, resulting in unnecessary treatment, a more serious illness or even death. In the case of heart disease, there is no single catch-all test to diagnose the type or severity of the disease. If diagnostic corners are cut through an error or by design, a relatively benign problem may become much more severe.
Physicians rely on a spectrum of tests to properly diagnose and plan treatment strategies for heart disease. An EKG and echocardiography are two common tests physicians may use. A stress test that the patient undergoes during exercise is another. Interpreting the results of these tests properly may mean the difference between catching a problem before it gets worse and a failure to diagnose the illness.
Other tests a doctor may order include a chest X-ray, blood tests to check for various heart disease-related abnormalities and cardiac angiography and catheterization. In the latter test, the patient is injected with radioactive dye to make abnormalities in blood flow through the cardiac muscle more readily apparent. However, like all medical tests, the findings must be properly interpreted and acted upon for the results to be meaningful in treating illness.
Medical malpractice injuries stemming from an improper diagnosis or treatment plan often present unique challenges. A Burlington medical malpractice attorney may need to review the patient’s medical files going back many years to attempt to ascertain when symptoms first presented and why they were not properly treated. If a decision is made to move forward with a lawsuit, damages sought could include the costs of all resulting medical care and treatment as well as lost wages.
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