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Failure to diagnose can lead to death in cardiac arrest

Years of research and countless medical cases have provided the health care industry with research and data to have in place steps and procedures when it comes to diagnosing and treating heart conditions, including heart attacks. When a patient presents at a Maryland hospital with chest pains, shortness of breath, pain that radiates down the arm or uncontrollable sweating, most emergency room physicians will swing into quick action to prevent, diagnose and treat a heart attack. Recently, two doctors in another state reached a settlement with a family when the failure to diagnose a woman with a heart condition led to her death.

A 41-year-old dietary nutritionist went to her local emergency room after complaining of severe left shoulder pain that would extend down into her left arm. The treating physician had ordered a cardiac evaluation but later cancelled the order, never rescheduling. This test is the only accurate way to truly decipher whether a patient is suffering from myocardial infarction. She was discharged from the hospital 10 days later.

Four days after her discharge, the mother of two was rushed by ambulance back to the emergency with the same complaint of severe left shoulder and arm pain, but this time, shortness of breath accompanied her discomfort. The attending physician this round misdiagnosed the woman with pneumonia, which resulted in her death six hours later. A later autopsy revealed that the patient had, in fact, died of a heart attack that occurred over a period of several days.

Maryland residents expect a certain degree of professionalism and especially accuracy when they enter a local emergency room for treatment. Most medical issues are treatable and, with immediate and accurate testing, diagnosable. Failure to diagnose can be painful and even fatal for patients who are not given the utmost care when arriving with signs and symptoms of cardiac issues. When a loved one has been injured or lost due to the negligence of a medical professional, a lawsuit could be filed in civil court to seek damages and medical costs incurred for the victim or surviving family members.

Source:, "Scranton family receives $3.5 million in medical malpractice settlement", David Singleton, August 5, 2017

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