Emergency Room doctors often commit malpractice by failing to quickly rule out the most dangerous, life-threatening causes.
A patient coming in with chest pain might simply be having anxiety, or acid reflux, or pulled a muscle.
But if there are other important facts, that patient may be having a vascular catastrophe like:
- pulmonary embolism -- blood clot to the lung
- aortic dissection -- a tearing of the biggest artery in the body that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body
- heart attack (myocardial infarction) -- blockage of major coronary blood vessels that feed the heart muscle
- stroke -- either bleeding in the brain or blockage of a blood vessel in the brain
If pulmonary embolism is suspected, a specific CT scan needs to be ordered, called CT pulmonary angiogram.
If aortic dissection is suspected, CTA -- a special CT with arterial contrast enhancement -- must be done.
If a heart attack is suspected, repeat EKGs are required, and a special lab for troponins needs to be ordered and re-ordered and trended.
If a stroke is suspected, a head CT and CTA must be done, depending on the situation. Certain strokes can be treated with clot-busting medications but only within a short window of time from the onset of symptoms.
Malpractice happens when a provider should have worked up and ruled out a dangerous diagnosis but instead settled on or "anchored" on a more benign, non-urgent diagnosis, dismissing or ignoring the life-threatening diagnoses.