When an Undiagnosed Heart Attack Leads to Cardiac Arrest

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NJ Undiagnosed Heart Attack Lawyers
Image Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The medical malpractice lawsuit of woman whose heart attack went undiagnosed was recently settled for $3.5 million. The victim, a mother of two, died after her heart condition was wrongly diagnosed as pneumonia, which ultimately led to cardiac arrest. No doubt the stakes are high for a missed or misdiagnosed heart attack, as death, health complications, susceptibility to future heart attacks and decreased quality of life may be burdens forced upon you or a loved one.

If doctors were negligent in the diagnosis or treatment of your heart attack, or someone your love suffered harm or wrongful death in connection with medical malpractice involving a heart attack, Fronzuto Law Group is here to help. Our skilled New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys assist individuals and families throughout New Jersey in holding negligent medical professionals accountable and obtaining the compensation victims deserve. If you have questions about a potential lawsuit, contact our offices today at 973-435-4551 for a free consultation about your specific case.

When an Undiagnosed Heart Attack Causes Death

In the aforementioned case, 41-year-old Kristine Coleman was experiencing severe left shoulder pain that traveled down her left arm when she was admitted to Geisinger Community Medical Center on February 6, 2012. They initially ordered a cardiac evaluation, which included a cardiac catheterization, to investigate the condition of her arteries and identify if there was a potential blockage. Doctor Chua Fe Huang subsequently canceled the catheterization, which is an essential diagnostic tool when assessing whether or not a person is experiencing a heart attack.

Mrs. Coleman was ultimately discharged from the medical center on February 16 but returned to via ambulance just four days later, suffering shortness of breath and returning pain in your left arm/shoulder. This time, Doctor Paul Dubiel diagnosed her with pneumonia. In just six short hours, Mrs. Coleman went into full cardiac arrest and was deceased. An autopsy following her death confirmed that she had suffered an undiagnosed heart attack which spanned several days.

Undiagnosed Heart Attacks: The Medicine

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when there is lack of blood supply to the heart muscle, which causes permanent damage. In order for the heart to function properly, this essential muscle requires a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood, which is delivered through the coronary arteries. If a coronary artery becomes blocked, due to coronary artery disease, a blood clot, or another cause, the heart becomes deprived of blood and oxygen. This condition quickly leads to death of some of the heart muscle cells and permanent damage, which is a heart attack.

Heart attacks can happen to anyone at anytime. In fact, “silent heart attacks” have become a more frequent topic of discussion, as medical research has shown that countless heart attacks are never diagnosed. However, in many heart attack cases, the patient suffers symptoms which compel them to seek medical help. When you arrive at a doctor’s office or an emergency room with potential signs of a heart attack, such as chest pain or pain radiating down one side of your body, doctors must immediately take action to confirm or rule out a heart attack diagnosis.

First, you should be asked to describe the symptoms you are experiencing and medical professionals should check your blood pressure, pulse rate, and internal temperature. A heart monitor can also be used to determine if you are currently having a heart attack. Then, there are a variety of diagnostic tests to identify a myocardial infarction event.

  • Blood tests: Specific enzymes present in your blood stream can show if your heart has sustained damage during a heart attack
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): Doctors will attach electrodes to your skin to track your heart’s electrical activity. Abnormal activity may indicate that you suffered, or are currently suffering a heart attack
  • Chest X-ray. An X-ray of your chest will provide a real-time image that shows the size of your heart, the condition of your blood vessels, and whether or not there is fluid in your lungs
  • Echocardiogram: This will show video images of your heart to determine if and where your heart has been damaged and how effectively it is pumping blood to the rest of your body
  • Coronary catheterization: Doctors insert a catheter into one of your arteries and inject a liquid dye into your coronary arteries. They can then see your arteries on an X-ray to identify any blockages.

With a heart attack, minutes can change your prognosis. Seeking medical help immediately upon experiencing symptoms can truly save your life. The ideal time to treat a heart attack is in the first hour or two after symptoms present. Then, it is the responsibility of your doctor(s) to take prompt action in diagnosing and treating a myocardial infarction. Failure to diagnose a heart attack or misdiagnosis can cause greater damage to your heart muscle and can significantly decrease your likelihood of survival.

Heart Attack Malpractice Attorneys Advocate for Clients across New Jersey

In need of legal assistance with a case against medical professionals who left a heart attack undiagnosed? The New Jersey medical malpractice law firm of Fronzuto Law Group has the knowledge and experience you need now. Call 973-435-4551 to find out your legal rights and what can be done to pursue damages if you or a loved one suffered injuries from a heart attack that doctors failed to diagnose. We are always available to provide answers in a free consultation, as well as a free case review to learn if you may have valid cause for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

For additional information about the aforementioned case, access the following article: Scranton family receives $3.5 million in medical malpractice settlement

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