Delays or errors in the diagnosis and treatment of heart problems, including a heart attack, can cause serious consequences including disability or even death. When either of these situations arises, it may be possible to make a claim for compensation.
The medical term for a heart attack is ‘myocardial infarction’ (MI). The myocardium is the cardiac muscle, the thick inner layer of the heart. An infarction is an obstruction of the blood supply to an organ or area of the body, usually as the consequence of a blood clot. An MI therefore occurs when the blood flow to the heart muscle is blocked by a blood clot.
According to the NHS website, the symptoms of heart attack can include:
- Chest pain – a feeling of pressure, heaviness, tightness, or squeezing across your chest.
- Pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is spreading from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back, and, tummy.
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy.
- Shortness of breath.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- An overwhelming feeling of anxiety.
- Coughing and wheezing.
The symptoms experienced can differ from person to person. The chest pain associated with a heart attack is often severe, but some people may experience only minor pain, similar to indigestion. Women are more likely to have other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and back and jaw pain, than men.
Some individuals are more at risk of suffering a heart attack because of pre-existing health issues and other factors including smoking, obesity, family history, drug use, etc. These factors also increase your risk of suffering from vascular dementia, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and peripheral arterial disease. In turn, these conditions put you at a higher risk of both a heart attack or a stroke.
Ultimately, a heart attack is a medical emergency, and the symptoms should not be ignored or overlooked. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is required in order to prevent unnecessary damage to the heart muscle and prevent death. Surprisingly, early intervention can mean the heart recovers from anywhere between two weeks to three months.
In our experience medical negligence claims concerning heart problems and heart attacks most commonly arise in the following situations:
- A GP fails to make a referral for a patient with a history of chest pain during exercise or other serious symptoms.
- The ambulance is delayed or fails to arrive, delaying diagnosis and treatment.
- Delays in triage at Accident & Emergency (A&E)
- Failure to take a proper medical history, for example noting that the patient suffers from coronary heart disease which restricts or blocks the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle.
- Failure to do an ECG to monitor heart activity.
- Failure to note observations of vital signs including pulse, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels.
- Incorrect interpretation of ECG or other test results.
- Misdiagnosis, for example, diagnosing indigestion or gastritis rather than a cardiac issue.
- Delays in carrying out procedures, such as stenting or angioplasty.
Sadly, sometimes delays in diagnosis and treatment result in a patient’s death. Our solicitors have also successfully recovered compensation for the Estate of a loved one following substandard treatment of a cardiac condition by GPs, the Ambulance Service and Hospitals.
At RHL Solicitors, we understand that no one would wish to begin the long and emotional journey of claiming damages against the medical profession without good cause. However, it’s crucial to ensure you get the expert legal advice and support you need. If you believe that there was a delay in diagnosis or treatment of your heart attack or heart problem, contact us on: 0344 7768328 to explore a possible claim for compensation on behalf of the victims of medical negligence on a No Win No Fee Agreement. RHL Solicitors’s specialist medical negligence solicitors conduct thorough and rigorous clinical negligence investigations with the intention of establishing liability and recovering compensation. The expert reports we disclose to the Defendant during the claim process can also help to make a difference and to improve future care.