While most people hesitate to go to the emergency room when confronted with a sudden painful condition, those who do should be assured of a thorough evaluation. After all, why call it an “emergency room” if emergent procedures are not going to be done to help diagnose the patient’s condition?
We have represented many clients who have gone to the emergency room for two particular types of devastating injuries that were not diagnosed. The first is heart attack, and the second is stroke.
Often people will have a lot of chest pain, with the pain going to their arm or their chin, very heavy “pressure” on their chest, and also suffer from indigestion. Too often, the emergency department will dismiss this as some Gastro-Intestinal “GI” disturbance, and send the patient home without doing a minimum of tests that determine whether there is an ongoing heart attack. Unfortunately, some of our clients who were discharged from the emergency room with a GI disturbance went on to have a heart attack and either died or had serious complications. Website Information Often times some blood work and a thorough history and examination will disclose the potential of a heart attack. If you are going to the emergency room with any “GI” disturbance, make certain to disclose any feeling of chest pain, jaw pain, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, and vomiting. These are common signs and symptoms of a heart attack about to happen, although a patient can be having a heart attack with only one or two of these symptoms. If you are discharged from an emergency room and are not feeling completely certain of their diagnosis, you should call your family practitioner immediately and advise of all signs and symptoms which prompted you to go to the emergency room.
In addition to “missed” heart attacks in the emergency room, many clients have contacted us because of a failure to diagnose stroke. Any sudden weakness of an arm, leg, side of your face, or any part of the body, accompanied by numbness, vision changes, or slurred speech, necessitates a visit to the emergency room. Often times people will be unable to speak, unable to understand others who are talking to them, they have sudden loss of memory, or loss of balance or coordination. Once again, it is extremely important to go to the emergency room when these conditions occur. Preferably do so with a family member or good friend who has witnessed these conditions so an accurate description of the symptoms and signs can be given to the emergency department personnel. Very often, clients have been discharged with a cursory examination, given a diagnosis of vertigo or dizziness, only to find out that a stroke was occurring and suffer the consequences thereof. There are new medications that can be used to treat “blood clots” given under appropriate circumstances and in a timely fashion. These can reduce the stroke, the consequences, or sometimes eliminate the severe consequences which follow.
Many of our clients have come to us to investigate these particular mishaps and misdiagnoses in the emergency room, and that is why they are reported here. The great majority of physicians and emergency doctors do a wonderful job. When they fail to perform appropriate tests given the seriousness of an impending heart attack or stroke, consequences to the patients (our clients) are significant.
If you have any questions regarding these particular types of cases, please feel free to call.
Author: J. Michael Monteleone
About the Author: JKFM Attorneys