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In medical malpractice cases involving missed diagnoses or delayed treatment of heart attacks it is crucial to know if the patient was at risk for a heart attack or if they were demonstrating warning signs before the attack. These warning signs may begin months before a heart attack occurs and therefore that information may be buried in the past visits; and they may have been subtle.

The other question that needs to be asked is whether the MD practiced due diligence and ran the tests to determine if the patient had high cholesterol; asked whether they had exercise intolerance; or treated their high blood pressure aggressively enough. Sometimes the cases are complicated by other conditions that distracted the MD from the root cause of the symptoms. If there was enough reason to believe the symptoms were a result of the previously diagnosed conditions, it may be difficult to prove malpractice. However, other conditions should alert the physician to a higher risk, such as clots in the deep veins or diabetes. In these cases, the physician should closely monitor and take extra steps to assess the patient’s heart risk.

This month’s civil topic is heart attacks as a missed diagnosis in medical malpractice cases. Topics covered are:

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