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Failure to diagnose heart condition leads to patient's death

Heart problems are among the more serious health issues that Ann Arbor residents may face in their lifetimes. Because of the serious risks posed by heart conditions, physicians are trained to recognize signs in their patients that could be indicators of a heart attack or similar emergency related to the heart. When they fail to diagnose such a condition, they may be held liable in court for damages resulting from their negligence.

One such case is making its way through the court system in the southern part of the country. The patient, a man in his mid-fifties, had complained for days of muscle pain, stomach aches and cramps. While he was known to have Hepatitis C and a history of hypertension, his symptoms were initially treated as flu.

Eventually the man was seen in the emergency room at a local hospital. The medical team ordered him to undergo gallbladder surgery, apparently ignoring evidence from his labs that pointed to congestive heart failure, kidney failure and liver dysfunction, as well as dehydration. During the surgery on his gallbladder, he experienced a massive, fatal heart attack.

In early December, his surviving family members filed a lawsuit against the hospital. They are accusing the facility of wrongful death and medical malpractice, and seeking compensation for their costs related to medical expenses, funeral and burial costs. They are also asking to be compensated for their pain and suffering, grief and other damages.

Cases involving a failure to diagnose a patient's true condition are all too common, often resulting in a worsened condition or even death. Victims and their families may feel the physician did his or her best, that practitioners are only human; they may simply want to get on with their lives. But the truth is that there are professional standards that physicians must meet, and patients may not have all of the information necessary to judge this. A legal representative can review a case and advise what steps might be available.

Source: The Louisiana Record, "Ochsner Clinic Foundation sued after man allegedly dies due to misdiagnosis for heart condition," Kyle Barnett, Feb. 4, 2015

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