Simply put, an aortic dissection (AD) is a tear in the inner layer of the large blood vessel branching off the heart (aorta), caused by some kind of trauma. There are approximately 2,000 new cases each year in the United States. Left untreated, an aortic dissection is highly lethal because it can lead to rupture of the aorta. This is why it is so important for cardiac specialists and emergency department doctors who are presented with the symptoms of an aortic dissection to order the appropriate imaging tests early in the diagnosis process. The most classic symptoms associated with AD are sudden onset high blood pressure, severe ripping or tearing in the chest, and back pain – particularly shoulder and intra-scapular pain. Aortic dissection misdiagnosis claims seek to compensate the victim’s family for losses associated with a missed diagnosis.
Access to a patient’s medical history is necessary for diagnosis
Risk factors for AD include history of hypertension, history of aorta pathology, Marfan syndrome, bicuspid aortic valve, or previous cardiac surgery. When emergency room doctors do not have access to or fail to access a patient’s medical history in the emergency room, it becomes very difficult to accurately diagnose aortic dissection. This is because clinical examination and chest radiography alone don’t provide enough information to make a diagnosis of AD.
Unfortunately, more than one in three patients who are suffering from aortic dissection are affected by misdiagnosis. Aortic dissection can be difficult to diagnose, with studies showing that up to 38% of patients with the condition are not properly diagnosed when they first seek help. The main challenge is that the symptoms of a heart attack, acute coronary syndrome (ACS) (including acute myocardial infarction), acute stroke, and shock, can all overlap with the symptoms that present in a person experiencing AD. Medical experts agree that clinicians should consider aortic dissection as differential diagnosis in patients who present with chest pain, back pain, and syncope.
Another complicating factor is that emergency departments don’t see nearly as many cases of AD as they do other health issues with similar symptoms such as myocardial infarction.
If you lost a loved one or they were otherwise injured as a result of an aortic dissection misdiagnosis, you should know your legal rights. An aortic dissection medical malpractice lawyer has experience with medical malpractice lawsuits involving aortic dissection negligence and the settlement value of these claims. In most cases, aortic dissection misdiagnosis claims are wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuits because the mortality rate for untreated aortic dissection is 90%.
A timely diagnosis is critical
When it comes to aortic dissection, a timely diagnosis is critical because the risk of death increases with each passing hour. Sadly, 20% of patients die before they even reach the hospital and in 15% of all cases, diagnosis is made after the patient has died. Without surgery, 80% of patients will die within two weeks and a shocking 40% will die within 24 hours.
Misdiagnose can lead to further injury
When a patient is misdiagnosed with AD, they may be prescribed inappropriate treatment such as anti-platelet, anti-thrombin, or fibrinolytic therapy. Unfortunately, when patients experiencing aortic dissection are exposed to these types of treatments, it can lead to hemodynamic instability and other problems that can dramatically reduce the success of surgery for aortic dissection.
The Seattle Personal Injury Lawyers You Want on Your Side
The personal injury attorneys at Tinker Law Firm have been winning birth injury, medical malpractice, and personal injury cases for individuals and their loved ones in Seattle and across Washington State since 1974. We seek justice for injury victims who have been harmed by preventable medical errors, and the negligent or abusive actions of another. Our clients pay no fees or expenses to file a personal injury claim; our firm advances out-of-pocket expenses and is only reimbursed when we recover a settlement on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims in Washington State have a statute of limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time from the date of the injury.
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