New York City Failure to Diagnose Coronary Artery Disease Attorneys


Coronary artery disease (CAD) or coronary heart disease (CHD) kills thousands of people in the United States each year. This deadly disease happens when plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. Over time, plaque can harden and break open, reducing the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Once this happens and the arteries become blocked or severely narrowed, the heart experiences a lack of oxygen and nutrients. What is particularly distressing is when coronary artery disease is discovered too late, either on the operating table or in the emergency room, when it may have been a progressive condition that a physician could have detected or prevented in earlier years. Failure to diagnose on the part of a health care physician means exactly that: that the patient was deprived of an opportunity toward better health had the advanced condition been detected earlier.

Finding ourselves in an emergency room is a scary situation, and if we keep up with our routine physical examinations, we should not have to go to the emergency room at all—that is, if our doctor continues to correctly identify any issues and concerns that are brought to his or her attention over the years. Many physicians, however, work double time and overtime to make sure they see and manage their quota of patients. A doctor may overlook a complaint and mistake the seriousness of a situation, or prescribe a routine remedy just to appease the patient. We’ve all heard about the frequent misdiagnosis of a heart attack as heartburn or indigestion. Our caregivers often neglect to remember that we are the ones who know our bodies best. All too often, however, we’re dismissed and sent home.

Causes, Identification and Early Detection of Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease is often identified when a patient ends up in emergency room or experiences heart or chest pain when there is seemingly no other reason for the heart or chest pain. For instance, if someone experiences severe trauma or stress, that person may have a heart attack because of that stress, such as after hearing devastating news, being involved in a tragic accident, or being frightened—literally—to the point of panic or death. Heart attacks that occur in those instances are conditional. Other times, when someone experiences a heart attack “for no apparent reason” it is often discovered too late that there had been severe atherosclerosis or plaque build-up, and all fingers point toward a doctor who should have identified the condition much earlier in the patient’s life.

Because of this, many physicians find themselves in the middle of a lawsuit for failure to diagnose heart conditions, particularly in cases where there may not have been an obvious prior history of cardiac problems. When a condition is missed time after time, that condition can exacerbate from lack of treatment and identification, and could result in a severe heart attack or death. But, there are situations where a physician should never err, regardless of whether a condition presented itself early on or not. A physician should never do the following:

  • Send home a patient who is actively experiencing heart pain
  • Fail to order or properly read the results of an EKG
  • Prescribe medications without looking at side effects or other medications that are being ingested by the patient

What is a Case for Failure to Diagnose Coronary Artery Disease?

The key factor in any failure to diagnose case is to determine whether the physician acted incompetently. The patient needs to prove that the doctor was incorrect or that he failed to perform appropriate tests or seek additional specialists for further—or second—opinions. Coronary artery disease can be detected by performing some standard tests on the part of the care provider. Some of the ways that coronary artery disease can be diagnosed are through the following:

  • EKG: detects and records the heart’s electrical activity
  • Stress testing: makes the heart work hard and beat fast for identifying areas where blood and oxygen might be depletive
  • Chest x-rays: can reveal signs of heart failure
  • Blood tests: checks levels of cholesterol, fat and protein; the results, if abnormal, could show risk for coronary artery disease

If your doctor failed to do any of the above, you may have left the office with a “clean bill of health” when, in fact, you had been harboring a disease or illness all along. If you, as a patient, complained about chest pains or expressed to your doctor that there was a history of heart disease in your family, and that doctor failed to move forward by testing you in certain ways for your probability of contracting coronary artery disease, then you may have a case of negligence and misdiagnosis.

Failure to diagnose also occurs when the doctor does not spend enough time with the patient to ascertain a full medical history, or neglects to pay close enough attention to complaints and symptoms. If you believe you or someone you know has fallen victim to a failure to diagnose case, you may need to pay attention to incidents that support the doctor’s failure to:

  • effectively communicate
  • obtain proper informed consent, when needed
  • promptly assess any complications
  • determine actual symptoms before prescribing a medication
  • review the history of the patient, both recent and over time

Many elements make up a failure to diagnose lawsuit, and all are best accomplished with the assistance of a competent law firm. There are some elements to keep in mind to determine if you have a case in the first place, and it may be helpful to look at these elements to build your case:

  • Did you visit the doctor more than once for the same complaint?
  • Were the symptoms severe, such as tightness in the chest, numbness, sweating or nausea?
  • Did you ask for tests and did not receive them?

If you believe you have the initial findings to state a claim for a failure to diagnose or medical malpractice case, we invite you to fill out and submit our Free Failure to Diagnose Coronary Artery Disease Case Evaluation Form without any obligation, or contact us toll free at (855) TOP-FIRM to further discuss your individual situation. In addition to failure to diagnose, Finz & Finz, P.C., handles all types of medical malpractice cases, including the following conditions:

  • Birth defects
  • Strokes
  • Liver cancer
  • Cervical or vaginal cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Osteoporosis

The team at Finz & Finz, P.C., consists of attorneys renowned for achieving desirable results in lawsuits related to failure to diagnose coronary artery disease cases. The lawyers and paralegals at the firm are standing by to answer your questions.