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Liability for failure to diagnose heart disease

Some of our readers may not be aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death among most age groups and ethnicities in the United States. It is such a pervasive condition that one would not think that heart disease misdiagnosis is common. After all, if so many patients are struck by this condition, how could a physician possibly miss it?

Unfortunately, heart disease is misdiagnosed and is the subject of delayed diagnosis with startling frequency. According to a recently released analysis conducted by a medical liability insurer referred to as The Doctors Company, primary care physicians are most often sued for failure to detect heart disease when it occurs in women specifically. While cardiologists, hospitalists and emergency physicians are also sued for heart disease diagnosis errors, primary care physicians are sued the most often for this kind of mistake.

Of the cases analyzed by this insurer, more than 80 percent involved an inadequate patient assessment. More than one in four cases involved either a delay or failure by the primary physician to obtain a consult or grant the patient a referral.

If you suspect that you may have heart disease and your primary care physician has not identified this condition, do not hesitate to get a second opinion. Making the effort to ensure that you are healthy may take time and a little money. But it is a far superior alternative than delaying a serious diagnosis would be. And if you have become the victim of a delayed heart disease diagnosis, please do not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney about your physician’s potential liability and your legal options generally.

Source: Family Practice News, "Who gets sued when heart disease is missed?," Alicia Gallegos, Feb. 1, 2014

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