A Kansas City hospital is being sued after emergency room doctors failed to diagnose a dangerous arterial blockage. The lawsuit claims that the doctor’s failure to diagnose a 100 percent blockage in the left anterior descending artery (LAD) led to the victim experiencing a heart attack. The patient has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit and is pursuing damages.
Failure to Diagnose ‘Widow-Maker’ Leads to Heart Attack
According to the lawsuit, a 38-year-old woman went to Saint Luke’s North Hospital in July 2019. She was experiencing abdominal pain that made it difficult to breathe. In triage, her acuity level was documented as urgent.
At the emergency room, her husband asked doctors if the pain could be heart related. After checking blood pressure and pulse rates, the doctors said they did not believe her heart was the problem. She was diagnosed with “epigastric pain” and sent home.
Two days later, she went back to the hospital with worsening symptoms. At this visit, doctors ordered an electrocardiogram (EKG), which indicated that blood supply to her tissues may have been restricted. The doctor noted that there was no previous test to compare to. Based on the EKG results, doctors performed a cardiac catheterization. They found a 100 percent blockage in the left anterior descending artery.
The woman suffered a massive heart attack which did permanent damage to her heart. The lawsuit claims that doctors and the hospital failed to,
“institute and enforce policies, procedures, and protocols that recognized the risk that women having a heart attack present with ‘atypical’ chest pain, such as epigastric pain.”
The lawsuit notes that even if doctors mistakenly believed that her heart was not the cause of her pain, they failed to perform adequate tests to rule out a cardiac cause. Furthermore, the negligence of emergency room doctors led to the heart attack, which may have been preventable.
Failure to Diagnose Widow Makers Can be Fatal
Blockages in the left anterior descending artery (LAD) are often called “widow makers” because without immediate emergency care they can have fatal consequences. The LAD is an important pipeline for blood supply to the major organs, especially the heart. When this artery is blocked, the heart muscle can start to lose oxygen and cell death can begin in a matter of minutes.
A blockage in the LAD artery can cause a variety of symptoms that may seem unrelated to the heart. That is why it is so important for doctors to perform tests like EKGs. Failure to diagnose an LAD artery blockage can be fatal in a short amount of time.
Symptoms of an LAD blockage may include:
- Upper body pain
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
If these symptoms and tests confirm a widow maker, doctors must act quickly to restore blood flow. Failure to restore blood flow within 90 minutes of a heart attack can cause permanent damage. Generally, doctors unblock the LAD artery by placing a stent in the artery. This opens the artery and allows blood flow to resume.
If the LAD artery blockage is resolved quickly, patients generally recover well with little or no permanent damage. Blockages that result in heart attacks or permanent damage can have long term effects on health.
Medical Malpractice and Failure to Diagnose
Medical malpractice means that a doctor or hospital did not provide the standard of care and, as a result, a patient suffered harm. In the case we discuss above, a failure to diagnose an LAD artery blockage resulted in the patient having a heart attack and suffering permanent damage. It is easy to see why that patient chose to speak with a attorney and file a lawsuit. She went to the emergency room expecting to be evaluated, diagnosed and treated. Instead, she was sent home and her condition worsened. Given the nature of her illness, she considers herself lucky to be alive.
Unfortunately, failure to diagnose happens more than most of us would like to know. Many cases are the result of negligence, when doctors do not uphold the standard of care when assessing patients, ordering tests and making a diagnosis.
When a failure to diagnose causes harm, it is a good idea for the patient to contact a medical malpractice attorney. By consulting with an attorney, patients can determine if they have grounds to file a lawsuit and pursue damages. If so, a skilled Houston medical malpractice attorney will build a case and fight for justice.
Contact a Skilled Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you believe you are a victim of medical malpractice, contact Brown, Christie & Green. We help clients with cases involving failure to diagnose, medical errors, birth injuries, nursing home abuse and more. Find out how we can help you by calling 1-800-600-4210. You can also request more information or schedule a free consultation by completing our online contact form.