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Patient struggles after doctor's failure to diagnose heart attack

Maryland readers may be interested in a recent report released by medical experts from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine that states that most Americans who regularly visit a doctor will receive an incorrect or delayed diagnosis at least once during their lifetime. A doctor's failure to diagnose a patient correctly can be detrimental or even deadly. Yet, diagnostic errors such as this are often unmeasured.

A woman in another state went to the emergency room because of pain in her chest and left arm. The medical staff ordered standard cardiac tests, all of which came back normal. The doctor told the woman that she had acid reflux. When the patient questioned the diagnosis because of the pain in her left arm, a nurse is said to have told her to stop asking questions.

The woman was released from the hospital, embarrassed and still in pain. Her symptoms persisted. Two weeks later, she returned to the hospital, where she had an emergency procedure to remove a blockage of her heart. She had indeed had a heart attack.

It is quite difficult to measure diagnostic mistakes made by doctors; they often are only recognized after a patient autopsy or medical malpractice lawsuit. Failure to diagnose symptoms and thus non-treatment of symptoms can result in ongoing health issues, excessive medical bills, missed work and even death. Patients in Maryland who have had delayed treatment or none at all because of a doctor's failure to diagnose are entitled to speak with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who may be able to assist in the pursuit of a medical malpractice suit.

Source: The Washington Post, "Most Americans will get a wrong or late diagnosis at least once in their lives", Lena H. Sun, Sept. 22, 2015

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