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Michigan City Medical Malpractice Lawyer |Missed Heart Attack a Common Cause of Malpractice

Guy DiMartino Nov. 4, 2014

Michigan City medical malpractice lawyer discusses some case histories showing that missed heart attacks are common causes of medical malpractice claims.

CIRCO/RMF the medical malpractice carrier for the doctors insured through Harvard identifies a number of case histories that have led to medical malpractice claims. The failure to timely diagnose a patient is a common scenario in Indiana and all over the country. Why, because the outcome of the failure to diagnose the heart attack usually causes the death of the patient.

The facts in this case are as follows:

  • 51 year old man feels chest pain and weakness

  • Patient goes to the hospital and tells the doctor he has had chest pain for 7 hours, a dull ache in the left arm, and weakness when trying to close the car door

  • A blood test was ordered to rule out a heart attack

  • A blood enzyme suggesting a heart attack was elevated

  • The patient was given 2 nitroglycerin tables which decreased the pain

  • The emergency room doctor recommended a stress test that had to be stopped in 3 minutes because of tiredness

  • The stress test was reported back as normal

  • The patient was discharged with a diagnosis of “GERD” gastro esophageal reflux disease.

  • The patient died 10 days later

  • An autopsy noted that the patient had severe coronary artery disease and he died because of an abnormal heart beat. The autopsy also noted that the patient suffered a heart attack 7 to 10 days before death

I analyze a timely diagnose a heart attack medical malpractice case as follows: At the outset, the standard of care or put another words, the rules of medicine, require a doctor to rule out a heart attack before discharging a chest pain patient from the hospital.


  • A guy in his 50s with chest pain that travels into the left arm – these are classic heart attack signs

  • Elevated blood enzymes which suggest that heart muscle has been damaged

  • The patient had to stop the stress test after 3 minutes. A STRESS TEST THAT HAS TO BE STOPPED AFTER 3 MINUTES IS NEVER NORMAL.

  • A heart attack was never ruled out (excluded) before this patient was released from the hospital

I have no doubt that if the patient was taken for a heart catheterization after he failed the stress test, the cardiologist would have placed a stent and the patient would not have died within 10 days.

In my eyes, the key to the patient's family proving this case was the autopsy. The autopsy findings in this case, showed the underlying heart disease and the pathologist was able to say that the patient suffered a heart attack within 7 to 10 days before death. This always brings up the difficult question after a friend or loved one dies and you may suspect inadequate medical care. And that is, do you get an autopsy? We have discussed the pros and cons of an autopsy in another blog.

As an aside, the insurance company in this case reported that it paid the family of the patient over a million dollars.

If you have any questions about a missed heart attack you can contact our Michigan City Indiana medical malpractice lawyer.

Indiana medical malpractice law is complex.