It may seem incredible that the most dangerous health conditions are also the most misdiagnosed. However, this is exactly the case with aortic dissection (AD)—a tearing in the heart’s major artery that requires immediate surgery to avoid a fatal outcome.
There are a number of reasons patients often suffer aortic dissection misdiagnosis, including:
- Unremarkable history – Even patients with acute AD do not usually have any “red flags” in his or her medical history that would lead doctors to suspect the condition.
- Even risk factors – Patients of any age can experience aortic dissection.
- Multiple possibilities – Severe chest pain may a symptom of acute AD, but in many cases the symptoms are more subtle. The complaint given most often by sufferers is gastric distress, such as heartburn.
Since the time between discovery and correction of the condition is crucial, researchers are continually looking for ways to increase awareness of AD, particularly in ER settings. A recent study in The Journal of Clinical Hypertension examined data over a five-year period and found that:
- 14% of patients with AD were initially misdiagnosed
- AD patients experienced a range of symptoms, including fainting, abdominal pain, back pain, chest pain, and acute congestive heart failure
- Many patients had minimal symptoms with key manifestations of pain
- Correct diagnosis of AD was commonly made using a chest x-ray, CT scan, MRI or angiography
- Echocardiography (EKG) results alone are usually not sufficient to rule out an AD diagnosis
If you believe that your relative died as a result of an aortic dissection misdiagnosis, the Kentucky medical malpractice at Gray and White can help. Call us today at 800.634.8767 or fill out the contact form on the top of this page to start your FREE consultation.