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Fatal Post-Surgical Heart Attacks and Malpractice

By Scott Eldredge

March 16, 2016   Blog, Medical Malpractice

For most patients undergoing surgery, issues related to infections or anesthesia-related complications dominate their concerns about the procedure itself and their recovery period. Many people don’t know that heart attacks can pose a significant risk to recovery. Millions of victims worldwide suffering cardiac arrest after surgery each year. Frighteningly, 10% of these patients perish within 30 days of their heart attack.

Preventable deaths persist

What makes such statistics even more tragic is that experts believe that 85% of these post-surgical heart attacks are never diagnosed due to an apparent lack of symptoms. Because patients are usually on pain medications, the symptoms of a heart attack can be masked. According to the authors of an article in the Journal of Anesthesiology, a simple post-surgery blood test could actually make a major difference in such cases.

Diagnosis without traditional symptoms

The lead author of the Journal of Anesthesiology article, Dr. P.J. Devereaux, determined that only 15% of patients who suffer post-surgery heart attacks present traditional symptoms, which means many heart attacks slip under the radar. This eliminates the possibility for treating these conditions before they can claim patients’ lives. To that end, Dr. Devereaux suggests administering a test called a “Myocardial Injury after Noncardiac Surgery” (MINS) to diagnose heart attacks in the first few days after surgery.

Assessing liability

While the issue was not raised specifically in this article, the role of malpractice in cases in which patients perish as a result of undiagnosed medical conditions should not be underestimated. With each case presenting unique facts, experts should be consulted when loved ones pass away due to undetected events or side effects, including undiagnosed post-surgical heart attacks and malpractice incidents.

To determine whether medical malpractice contributed to a death or worsened an injury or disease, knowledgeable legal advocates should be consulted.

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