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Study looks at failure to diagnose heart disease among women

A recent study conducted by a medical insurance provider says that it is more common for primary care doctors to be sued for a failure to diagnose heart disease among women than cases brought against heart doctors. Family physicians or primary care doctors are sued in roughly half of the cases involving the issue. Cardiologists comprise about 22 percent of this type of medical malpractice claim.

The most common issue in missing the diagnosis of cardiac disease among women involves the failure to properly assess female patients. Generally, assessment of a patient differs from diagnosing a medical condition. Each process is an important step.

A story regarding the failure to diagnose cardiac disease among female patients carried by Family Practice News indicates that doctors have a more difficult time diagnosing women. The magazine account does not go into detail about why heart disease in women is more difficult to diagnose.

Heart disease is the number one killer in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Men and women may suffer from cardiac disease—people of all ages may suffer from heart disease. The CDC says that nearly half of all heart disease related fatalities in the United States involve women.

If a doctor mistakes symptoms of heart disease as being linked to indigestion or heartburn, the doctor may not order further tests. The initial faulty diagnosis my lead to a significant delay in finding the true medical issue.

These issues can be dire for a patient.

But, the recent research in medical malpractice cases also says that roughly 11 percent of women and 20 percent of men play a role in a delayed or missed diagnosis of heart disease. Missed appointments, or issues, such as noncompliance with some kind of treatment plan, may be a factor in these types of cases.

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

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