The Indiana medical malpractice lawyers at Garau Germano Hanley & Pennington, P.C. frequently encounter cases where physicians or hospitals have failed to properly treat patients experiencing heart attacks. Medical errors in the diagnosis or treatment of this condition can lead to tragic outcomes.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Heart attacks are a byproduct of heart disease. A heart attack occurs when blood vessels to the heart become blocked, depriving the heart of oxygen. The symptoms of a heart attack can vary widely. The most common symptom is chest pain, although the pain may also occur in the arms, neck, jaw, or stomach. Shortness of breath, cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness are other common symptoms.
Early treatment of a heart attack is imperative. The longer a heart attack goes untreated, the longer the heart is deprived of oxygen and the more damage is sustained to the muscle. Early treatment options include the administration of oxygen, aspirin, and nitroglycerin. Aspirin is used to thin the blood and help prevent further blockage in the vessels leading to the heart. Nitroglycerin reduces the heart’s workload and improves blood flow through the coronary arteries.
Once a heart attack is definitively diagnosed, available treatments include clot-busting drugs, angioplasty, and coronary artery bypass surgery. Clot-busting drugs, also known as thrombolytics, do what their name implies — they break up clots blocking blood flow through the coronary arteries. In order to be effective, the drugs need to be given fairly shortly after the heart attack occurs. Angioplasty involves the use of a tiny balloon placed in the blocked artery through a catheter. When the balloon is inflated, the blockage is pushed to the side of the artery wall, creating a wider path for blood to flow to the heart. In coronary artery bypass surgery, a new vein or artery is grafted around the diseased sections of coronary artery in order to increase blood flow to the heart.
With respect to heart attacks, the most common medical errors involve misdiagnosis and/or delay in treatment. Any error which prevents the timely treatment from being provided to the patient is likely to cause increased damage to the heart or death.
The medical malpractice lawyers at Garau Germano Hanley & Pennington, P.C. have successfully pursued many cases involving patients who have been seriously injured or killed as a result of improper treatment provided for a heart attack. If you believe that you or a loved one has experienced a serious injury as a result of medical malpractice, contact us for a free consultation.