Malpractice by a cardiologist can easily result in life-threatening injuries for a patient.
All doctors take an oath to do no harm. Unfortunately, that oath is sometimes violated by a physician's negligence, carelessness or inexperience. When doctors fail in their duties to care for patients properly, patients can easily be injured or even lose their lives. In few specialties are the risks for patient injury as real as they are in cardiology.
Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis could be fatal
The most common cause of cardiology-related malpractice allegations involves misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. This can cover any number of heart-related conditions, but often entails missing symptoms and warning signs that the patient was having an "acute myocardial infarction" (a.k.a. a heart attack). Heart attacks can easily be fatal, even for people whose health is relatively good otherwise, and they must be treated both promptly and properly to avoid either death or long-term health consequences.
When cardiologists fail to recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, or attribute those symptoms to a different condition with similar presentation like a pulmonary embolism, patients can die. Though symptoms can appear differently according to the patient's overall health, age, race and gender, there are some that should be noted in order to ensure a prompt and proper diagnosis. According to the American Heart Association, these include:
- Tightness or discomfort in the chest (sometimes described as a "squeezing" sensation that can either be constant or come and go)
- Shoulder/arm pain (particularly on the left side)
- Neck or jaw pain (especially when other symptoms are present)
- Pain in the upper back (behind the lungs or between the shoulder blades)
- Shortness of breath
- Breaking out in a "cold sweat"
- Nausea/vomiting/retching (more common in women)
- Extreme fatigue
Other cardiologist malpractice
Unfortunately for patients, missing the symptoms of a heart attack, or attributing those symptoms to a different condition (or vice versa) aren't the only ways in which a cardiologist could commit medical malpractice. Cardiologists can cause harm to patients in other ways as well.
For example, if a cardiologist misreads test results, a patient could be forced to undergo unnecessary invasive testing - like a transesophageal echocardiogram - that itself could do harm. Physicians could also, if they don't make accurate diagnoses or treatment decisions, order unnecessary pacemaker devices or put patients on potentially risky medications (like warfarin, which can cause uncontrolled bleeding and other effects unless a patient is very closely monitored and subject to regular blood testing).
All physician malpractice puts patients at risk, but those risks are elevated when it comes to cardiology. Cardiologists must be vigilant, organized, insightful, knowledgeable and conscientious in order to keep their patients safe. If you or someone you love has been the victim of a cardiologist's malpractice, you have legal rights. To learn more about legal options and discuss your case in a free consultation, contact the skilled medical malpractice attorneys at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff LLP. Call the firm toll free at 1-866-516-5887 or send them an email.