Our medical malpractice attorneys handle cases involving a missed diagnosis or the misdiagnosis of a life threatening medical condition. Medical errors and mistakes are far too common and can lead to serious injury and even death. One condition too often misdiagnosed is an aortic dissection.
Aortic dissection is the most common catastrophe of the aorta. An aortic dissection is approximately 3 times more common than rupture of the abdominal aorta. When it is untreated, more than 40% of the patients die within the first 24 hours, and 50% die within the next 48 hours. If not diagnosed within fourteen days, the mortality is greater than 90% in patients with undiagnosed ascending or descending aortic dissection. Based upon these statistics, the importance of timely diagnosis and treatment is the difference between life and death.
Claims for medical malpractice related to the failure to diagnose an aortic dissection are brought against emergency room physicians, cardiologists, and surgeons who are trained to diagnose and the condition based upon the history and symptoms of the patient.
As failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis and failure to treat aortic dissection accounts for a large majority of the medical malpractice claims in thoracic surgery, emergency room physicians, cardiologists and thoracic surgeons must have a heightened level of awareness for the urgency to treat patients who present with aortic dissection. It is essential that an appropriate history be taken from the patient and proper studies and testing be performed promptly to determine if the patient has an ongoing dissection. When presenting to an emergency department with signs and symptoms of an aortic dissection, the a consult with a cardiologist and cardiovascular surgeon should be ordered immediately.
Medical specialists must work quickly to determine if the patient has an aortic dissection or if some other medical condition is causing similar symptoms. Other conditions that have symptoms that might mimic an aortic dissection include primary ischemic coronary artery disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, musculoskeletal pain, and cervical root pain. Therefore, the patient’s medical history and proper testing are necessary to determine if the patient is in a medical crisis mode.
Many times, the patient may be at a small hospital or an urgent care clinic that is not equipped to handle the emergency surgery so the patient must be life-flighted or transported to a medical center that can treat the patient. The failure to initiate that transfer can also have fatal consequences.
When a physician or hospital fails to diagnose an aortic dissection and the patient suffers serious injury or death, it can give rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit. These lawsuits seek damages for pain and suffering, loss of earnings, loss of support, and medical expenses. In cases when a patient dies from the condition, the surviving family members can file a Wrongful Death Lawsuit.