Statistics show that family practitioners and general internists get the diagnosis wrong a relatively high number of times when a person is having a heart attack.
A very recent study on heart attack diagnosis released by the Physician Insurers Association revealed that malpractice in this area is quite high among family practitioners and general internists. They have the highest number of med mal claims and the highest average indemnity payments of any group of doctors.
“What this suggests is that heart attacks are difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can mimic a wealth of other conditions,” said Austin personal injury lawyer Brooks Schuelke, of Perlmutter & Schuelke L.L.P.
The study also indicates that acute myocardial infarction is the third most expensive medical condition that often ends up in claims against doctors, following closely behind birth injuries involving brain damaged babies and breast cancer. The numbers in this study reach back to 1985 and show that the insurance companies in the study paid out on 349 cases relating to heart attack misdiagnosis with a total indemnity of more than $91 million.
“There were 27 insurance companies that took part in this study, so if you extrapolate to include other insurance companies over the same period of time, the number of heart attack cases would be significantly higher, along with the final indemnity statistics. What that means is the rate of misdiagnosis for heart attacks is alarming and if you have had this happen to you, you will want to discuss your case with a skilled Austin personal injury lawyer,” Schuelke said.
The group with the highest number of claims filed (160 of 423 defendants) were general practitioners, often referred to as family doctors, followed by internal medicine medical professionals, who took the lead in indemnity payments, averaging roughly $252,100. The patient demographics indicated that at least one-quarter of the total payments (16 percent) were made to those under the age of 40, and 47 percent under the age of 50.
“For people in those age ranges, with a lot of living left to do, being misdiagnosed for a heart attack can and has resulted in fatal consequences,” Schuelke said. “The biggest concern is that the symptoms are clever mimics of other diseases. Having a heart attack and not being diagnosed correctly has become one of the most frightening situations to be in today, as the symptoms may be mistaken for gastrointestinal distress, a respiratory problem like bronchitis, asthma, anxiety or pneumonia.”
The best advice for someone who feels their heart attack was misdiagnosed as something else and that this medical error gravely affected their life is to speak to a seasoned Austin personal injury lawyer and find out precisely what can be done to move forward.
Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke LLP at http://www.civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.