Given the prevalence of heart disease and other cardiac issues in the United States, the chances are reasonable that any one of us may need the services of a cardiologist at some point. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. Some people are surprised to learn that almost one-half of American adults suffer from some kind of cardiovascular disease. Thus, cardiologists are a necessary and valuable part of the American healthcare system.
However, when one of these professionals makes a mistake, the results can be harmful, expensive, and even deadly. In this article, we will discuss some common mistakes made by cardiologists.
Common Causes of Claims against Cardiologists
The Doctors Company, a medical malpractice insurance company, has studied lawsuits and claims filed against cardiologists that the company insures to determine the causes of medical malpractice claims against its insureds. One study examined claims from 2007 to 2013. Another reviewed claims from 2014 to 2019. While the two studies did not have identical results, they both revealed many of the same causes giving rise to claims against cardiologists. Some are discussed below.
- Diagnosis issues: Diagnostic issues were the number one cause of claims in both sets of data studied. Diagnosis-related claims can include the failure to make a diagnosis, the most common example being the failure to diagnose myocardial infarction. These types of claims can also result from making an incorrect diagnosis or making a delayed diagnosis. One reason cited for the errors is that multiple cardiac conditions share symptoms, sometimes making diagnosis more challenging.
- Improper management of treatment: Once a proper diagnosis is made, the doctor must recommend an appropriate course of treatment. Once the treatment is undertaken, it needs to be managed. This includes collecting and analyzing data about the patient and treatment. Sometimes, the doctor simply fails to fully appreciate the meaning of certain data. However, errors can also occur from procedural mistakes or inefficiencies, such as poor communication and inaccurate records.
- Improper medication management: Choosing an incorrect medication for a patient’s circumstances, or failing to take into consideration the effects of mixing medications, are examples of issues that can arise when doctors prescribe medications. Where cardiologists are concerned, bleeding issues are the most common medication issue.
- Improper performance of a treatment or procedure: The types of procedures involved are varied. They can include surgery, use of catheters, inserting pacemakers, and a number of other actions. As with any type of surgery, many things can go wrong. Sometimes, the doctor is not at fault, even when there is a bad result. Sometimes, however, the doctor has committed medical malpractice.
These are just a few of the causes of claims against cardiologists. There are many other ways that a physician can commit medical malpractice.
Results of Cardiologist Medical Malpractice
According to the Doctors Company studies, there was little difference in the severity of injuries found in the two studies. In the recent study, the patient had what the company describes as a “high-severity injury” 67 percent of the time. The same was true 66 percent of the time in the older study. Death resulted more than 50 percent of the time. The insurance company paid money to the victim or the victim’s family more than 30 percent of the time, at a mean rate of more than $375,000 per claim.
Call with Questions
If you or a loved one has suffered injury or death due to the actions of a medical care professional, please call us with your questions. The experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield will be happy to answer them in a free consultation. Medical malpractice claims are complicated, and we have the expertise to help you investigate your claim and to recover the compensation to which you are due. We believe that by helping to hold negligent actors accountable, we can make Oregon safer for everyone.