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Why doctors misdiagnose heart attacks

One would think that a heart attack would be one of the easiest things for a doctor to diagnose. They happen every day, after all, and heart disease itself is now the number one leading cause of death in the United States. It’s become very clear that doctors should expect to see heart attacks, they should have plenty of experience diagnosing them and they should know how to get it right.

Needless to say, doctors sometimes misdiagnose heart attacks as other conditions. This can be a fatal mistake. If the doctor tells someone that they have a minor condition that just needs rest and sends them home, that person may go to sleep and never wake up. So why do these critical errors still happen?

Many of the victims are women

There has been evidence to show that men and women describe heart attacks differently. Doctors tend to assume that they’re looking for the symptoms that men will describe. As a result, when a woman is talking about her symptoms, doctors are more likely to assume that it is not a heart attack.

Symptoms can differ between patients

Another thing to remember is that heart attacks are not always the same from one patient to the next, regardless of gender. Chest pain is a very common symptom, but it’s not always present. Some people just feel nauseous. Others may experience what appears to be a seizure. With a wide range of symptoms, it’s natural that doctors will sometimes make mistakes.

Doctors are in a rush

Another problem is that doctors are usually in a hurry and they may need to make a quick decision. If they feel outside pressure to move on to the next patient, that could mean that they are negligent when looking at the evidence, that they rush through the procedure or that they don’t even let the patient talk to them. For example, some studies have suggested that most doctors interrupt their patients after a mere 11 seconds.

If you’ve lost a loved one or suffered serious harm due to medical malpractice, be sure you know what legal options you have.