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Heart Attack Malpractice: Although the symptoms of heart attacks are well-known, such as chest pain, left shoulder pain and jaw pain, neck pain and shortness of breath, lightheadedness, cold sweats, and nausea, medical malpractice is often a reason for heart attacks being misdiagnosed.

A heart attack that goes undiagnosed may be due to medical malpractice, such as an internist mistakecardiac malpracticeemergency medicine malpractice, or cardiology malpractice.

Failure To Diagnose Heart Attack Malpractice

Heart muscle can die every minute that treatment is delayed. The majority of undiagnosed heart attacks lead to death.

Heart attack risk factors include:

  • inactivity;
  • obesity;
  • High blood pressure
  • smoking;
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes.

A heart attack that is not correctly diagnosed is often confused with:

  • Angina
  • acid reflux;
  • Panic attacks
  • Pulled muscle
  • Ulcer;
  • Gallstones;
  • Fragmented ribs

medical malpractice cancerEmergency room doctors are often called upon to treat various medical conditions in a stressful and rushed environment. These doctors must be able to diagnose and treat potentially fatal diseases quickly. Unfortunately, emergency room doctors are often not able to diagnose heart attacks promptly.

Cardiological diseases are the leading cause of death in America each year. It kills more than 600,000 Americans every year[1]. It is responsible for 25% of all deaths in the country. Heart attacks occur in approximately 730,000 Americans each year. Most of these heart attacks are due to heart disease. Americans are more likely to have heart disease or heart attacks if they are overweight and have high cholesterol.

The United States experiences approximately 1.5 million heart attacks each year. Studies show that around 11,000 cases of the reported heart attack deaths were not correctly diagnosed, leading to unnecessary deaths. In some cases, medical negligence could be responsible for delayed or missed diagnosis of heart attacks.

Heart disease can be described as various heart conditions such as anginaarrhythmiasheart failure, and coronary heart disease. The most common condition associated with heart attacks is coronary heart disease.

Heart attacks are the leading reported cause of death in America; it is not a secret. It is the second leading cause of death in the state of Tennessee. It is usually treatable if it is caught early and is a common ailment in many people.

Medical professionals must be aware of chest pain, pain in the neck, back, jaw pain, nausea, shortness of breath, and cold sweats. Failure to recognize a heart attack by a doctor may be considered malpractice.

Medical malpractice lawsuits often involve cases involving negligent failure to diagnose a heart attack in a timely and accurate manner.


Myocardial Infarction (or heart attack) is when a part of the heart muscle dies due to insufficient blood supply. The death of the heart muscle causes chest pain. Around 800,000 Americans experience a heart attack each year.

Sometimes, symptoms of heart attack are not always obvious. These subtle symptoms include nausea, lightheadedness, cold sweats… These symptoms may not be obvious and can be caused by a variety of illnesses. Heart attacks often cause chest pain and shortness of breath, and some may even experience back or arm pain. A medical professional should never ignore these warning signs.

In some cases, the EKG or blood tests might not have been correctly analyzed. Cardiologists are specialists in heart disease and heart attacks, so they do not make the same mistakes as ER doctors or family doctors when it comes down to recognizing symptoms. It is essential to contact a cardiologist as soon as possible.


Heart attacks occur when blood is not reaching the right parts of your heart—every second counts when you have a heart attack. As the heart attack progresses, your heart muscle will die. These are the signs and symptoms that indicate cardiac arrest:

  • Chest pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Neck pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Cold sweats
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness

Heart disease can result in a heart attack or congestive heart failure. It can be caused by high blood pressureobesitysmokinghigh cholesterol, and diabetes.


In the United States, cardiovascular disease is considered the leading cause of death for the general population consisting of people from all walks of life and genders. The cause of this illness is a narrowed circulation due to the buildup of fat in the vessels. Blood cannot flow freely to the heart if it isn’t open. It means that oxygen and nutrition are not able to enter a person’s body.

Nearly 50% of those who experience cardiac arrest in the United States each year die from it. The treatment for cardiac arrest is to clear blockages in the arteries. It allows blood to flow more easily and lowers the chance of another cardiac arrest. The procedure called thrombolytic therapy is successful in treating cardiac arrest as it helps break down clotted blood. Other surgeries, such as angioplasty or coronary bypass, can also treat cardiac arrest.

These options must be administered as quickly as possible, usually within an hour after the signs of cardiac arrest. One 1 of 50 episodes of cardiac arrest goes undiagnosed, according to research.


A significant risk factor is symptoms that are not the same as those associated with heart attacks. Research has shown that misdiagnosis of heart attacks in female patients is more common than for male patients[2]. It may be due to the unusual symptoms that women show which are different from the ones men experience. These symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Pain in the back
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • It’s not possible to feel pain when it doesn’t radiate
  • Arms are heavy
  • Lightheadedness
  • Epigastric burning
  • Feeling flushed

These symptoms are not the same as the ones men experience which include headaches, pain in the chest and jaw, shoulder, arm, and neck, and pain between the shoulder blades.

Female patients suffering from a heart attack may be misdiagnosed as having psychiatric, emotional, or musculoskeletal issues, anxiety, or indigestion. Women may not get life-saving treatment such as an emergency cardiology consultation, nitroglycerin or heparin, and thrombolytic drugs. Instead, they might be prescribed antianxiety drugs.

Studies also show that non-whites are more likely to be misdiagnosed or delayed diagnosed with heart attacks.[3] It could be partially explained by the fact that many non-white heart attack victims are younger. One study found that heart attack victims of African descent were almost ten years older than white patients. Medical professionals may not suspect a heart attack in a younger person, regardless of race.

Senior heart attack victims may also be at risk for misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis. Atypical symptoms can sometimes be seen in older patients. Many patients with chronic conditions may also present.

Even if an ER doctor believes that a patient has a heart attack or another medical professional, negligent diagnostic testing can prevent a timely diagnosis.


A patient’s failure to receive a prompt and accurate diagnosis can lead to severe consequences. Studies have shown that delayed or missed heart attacks diagnoses can lead to adverse medical outcomes, including death. A study found that the risk of dying from a heart attack is almost doubled if it is not correctly diagnosed.

Patients who are not diagnosed with a heart attack or who have been delayed in getting one often experience more complications than those who are correctly diagnosed. According to a study, nearly three-quarters of heart attack patients were readmitted after being misdiagnosed.

However, the rate for patients who were correctly diagnosed and admitted for treatment was only 17%.


Heart attacks are something that health care providers must investigate and exercise due diligence. In general, doctors in emergency rooms can be sued if they fail to provide an acceptable standard, including ordering tests to determine whether a heart attack occurred and asking questions about the patient’s family history and any existing heart conditions. A doctor who fails to request an electrocardiogram (ECG) or EKG test to determine if a patient’s heart function properly is one of the most severe potential sources of malpractice.

If a doctor or medical team misdiagnoses a heart attack, they could be guilty of malpractice. To determine if the misdiagnosis is malpractice, you need to look at the doctor’s information and the exam results. A simple examination of medical records may reveal common symptoms of a heart attack. But the papers must also include common clear signs of a heart attack, any family history of heart disease in the family. It should consist of if all the required tests were done correctly, if the doctor asked the right questions, examined the patient properly, and history of any prior heart attacks at other medical facilities. These are just a few uncountable issues that should be considered when determining whether a medical professional was negligent.

Patients can be sent home with a vague explanation of their indigestion if they are unsure of the meaning of the abnormalities. A heart attack victim may experience more severe or minor attacks over the next few hours or days and could be left with long-term or even permanent damage.


Sometimes, it takes time for symptoms that could lead to cardiac arrest to manifest before the arteries become blocked and the patient is admitted to the hospital[4]. Medical professionals have a duty to perform tests on hospitalized patients to determine if they went into cardiac arrest. Sometimes, medical professionals ignore warning signs or do not spend enough time with patients to notice symptoms. It can lead to severe injuries and even death.

The aggrieved patient can bring a malpractice case against the medical provider if they have suffered a heart attack. An emergency room doctor failed to diagnose it on time correctly.

Tucker & Miller, a law firm in Phoenix, Arizona, offers a free consultation to assess your case. You do not pay anything unless we recover compensation—Call 602-870-5511 to schedule an appointment.

Our lawyers, including handle all types of medical malpractice cases:

  • Emergency room errors
  • Stent failures and other surgical errors
  • Misdiagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases
  • Inadequate testing to diagnose heart attacks or other conditions indicates that you are not ordering the proper tests.


Patients who have chest pains or other symptoms that are typical of heart attacks will seek treatment in an emergency room. Patients with unusual symptoms after a heart attack may also visit the ER. They may not be aware that they may have a cardiac problem.

Many doctors in the ER could make a mistake and fail to diagnose a cardiac attack promptly. These health care professionals include:

  • Emergency room physicians
  • Triage nurses
  • Consult cardiologists
  • Medical students and interns
  • Consulting physicians

Studies show that ERs with fewer patients may misdiagnose heart attacks more often than ERs with many patients, which could be because smaller emergency rooms have less experience diagnosing heart attacks and are more likely to diagnose them accurately.

A negligent diagnosis could also be made by medical professionals working in settings other than the ER. Other health care professionals who may be responsible for misdiagnosis of heart attacks or delayed diagnosis could also be at fault.


Many emergency room doctors are under pressure financially to see many patients, so they cannot spend enough time with each one to diagnose heart attacks. A patient might feel pain lifting his arm over his head after a match of tennis. The pain may be a sign of a shoulder injury or heart attack, but the doctor in the emergency room may not know the patient’s medical history.

Medical malpractice lawsuits can be used to hold emergency rooms responsible for ordering the appropriate tests to diagnose heart attacks or other life-threatening conditions.


Patients and their families will likely have many questions and concerns if a heart attack is not diagnosed or misdiagnosed. It is normal to wonder if medical professionals could have detected the heart attack earlier and if that would have saved the patient’s lives or improved their heart health. It would be best if you seek out a professional opinion from another specialist doctor and get the tests redone to confirm your hunch.

Tucker Miller Law- Phoenix Medical Malpractice Attorneys

1440 East Missouri Avenue # 150Phoenix, AZ 85014

Phone #(602) 870-5511

Latitude 33.511021  Longitude -112.060059

[1] Virani SS, Alonso A, Benjamin EJ, Bittencourt MS, Callaway CW, Carson AP, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2020 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2020;141(9):e139–e596.



[4] Fryar CD, Chen T-C, Li X. Prevalence of uncontrolled risk factors for cardiovascular disease: United States, 1999–2010 pdf icon[PDF-494K]. NCHS data brief, no. 103. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2012.


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