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Emergency Room Cardiologist Misreads EKG; Patient Suffers Massive Heart Attack 3 Months Later

Posted by attorney Gerald Oginski

A young man was having chest pain and went to his local emergency room. While in the emergency room they did the correct thing. They did a full cardiac workup. They did an EKG. They drew his bloods. They did an echocardiogram. They checked his troponin levels.

After this workup, they told him that he was fine and to go home and follow up with a cardiologist.

He followed those instructions exactly. He went to a cardiologist, whose name had been given to him in the emergency room. He saw this doctor every month for the next three months. On each visit, the patient complained of intermittent chest pain. The doctor performed another EKG and more blood work.

The doctor told him he was fine and to continue taking his medication. There was no evidence of any cardiac problem.

One day after the three months, the patient awoke in the middle of the night with massive chest pain. He was nauseous, he was sweating profusely and his wife called an ambulance.

He was taken to the same local emergency room that he was in three months earlier. This time however they diagnosed him as having a massive heart attack.

Neither the patient nor his wife could understand how his treating cardiologist and the hospital could fail to diagnose his heart condition since he was under their care for the past three months.

To put it a different way, "How does the doctor or hospital fail to diagnose a heart attack?"

It turns out that this patient's original EKG that was read by a cardiologist in the emergency room was misinterpreted. That original EKG clearly showed abnormalities that needed immediate follow-up.

Three different cardiology experts that I retained confirmed that his EKG results warranted additional cardiac testing. Had that testing been done, this patient would have had triple bypass surgery which would have prevented his massive heart attack.

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