Case shows it's always important to investigate chest pain

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 600,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, accounting for about 25% of all deaths. If the leading cause of death for men, women, people most racial and ethnic groups in America.

The classic signs and symptoms of heart attack include:

• Chest pain or discomfort. For most people, heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes with the gauze waiting and returned.

• Shortness of breath. This may happen before or at the same time as testing.

• Feeling faint or nauseated. Some people describe it as feeling like they’re about to pass out or light-headed.

• Radiating pain or discomfort in either or both arms or shoulders, or the jaw, neck, or back.

We recently looked at the facts of a tragic wrongful death cardiac medical malpractice case. It involved the death of a man who had recently turned 50 years old. He was height-weight proportionate and physically active. This middle-aged man had no health issues other than essential hypertension, which he controlled with on medication.

After working the yard, he went inside and told his wife that he had chest pain. It was the first time he’d ever experienced chest pain of this nature. She suggested an immediate trip to the emergency room, but they decided instead to call his primary care physician because of a lack of radiating pain to the neck, back, shoulders, or arms.

His primary care doctor wasn’t alarmed and suggested keeping his already-scheduled regular appointment later in the week. At that appointment, the doctor diagnosed him with heartburn or potential H. pylori infection, without ordering electrocardiogram (ECG) or doing any other workup.

A few months later, his wife found the man dead he was exercising. The coroner performed an autopsy, finding significant heart disease including the occlusion of one of his coronary arteries, past myocardial infarction (heart attack), and cardiomegaly (in large part). The autopsy report reflected a cause of death of arrhythmia/heart attack from heart disease.

Having just passed a milestone birthday myself, this really got my attention. I believe it illustrates the importance of primary care providers to properly work up any signs of a heart attack. This requires using the differential process that all doctors are taught in medical school.

Instead of jumping to a conclusion without a proper evaluation, assessment, or testing, doctors should form a differential diagnosis list of all possible diseases or medical conditions that could explain the patient’s symptoms. Then, based on a physical examination, lab work, diagnostic radiographic testing, or other procedures, the physician is to rule in or rule out each condition, starting with the most dangerous one.

In this man’s case, if the primary care physician hadn’t skipped steps in the differential diagnosis process, it’s likely that he would’ve diagnosed and referred the patient for treatment of his heart disease. This would’ve saved his life.

If you’ve been seriously and was a poor primary care or cardiac care in Texas, then contact a top rated, experienced Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer about your potential case.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.