Heart attacks do not discriminate by gender and can happen to both men and women. However, this is still often thought of as an issue faced by men, and the evaluation process has been created in this fashion. For this reason, doctors are far more likely to misdiagnose a heart attack when a woman is having one, as opposed to when a man is having one.
Some of this may be due to simple assumptions made by medical professionals. For instance, they may know that men have twice as many heart attacks every year as women, so they are more likely to assume it’s a heart attack when a man comes in. But they need to give equal weight to both genders so that they don’t make such a dangerous misdiagnosis.
Less obvious symptom combinations
One issue that researchers have pointed out is that the symptom combinations that women present are less obvious than those in men. For example, men will often talk about chest pain as the number one symptom that they are feeling. Women may talk about other issues, such as feeling tired or nauseous. They may refer to a tightness in their chest, rather than pain. These are just a few examples.
The problem with this is that doctors will start working in a different direction when they see these symptoms. They may start trying to diagnose a panic attack or an anxiety attack, for instance. They may think the person just has heartburn and needs to change their diet. Many women are sent home from the hospital when they are actively having heart attacks because doctors do not believe that’s what is occuring.
But this can be a fatal mistake. A woman who is sent home at this time may not receive the treatment that she needs, or she may only return to the hospital when the condition gets far more severe. Any delay in a diagnosis can be just as detrimental as getting that diagnosis wrong in the first place.
Those who have suffered harm due to a misdiagnosis need to know exactly what legal steps they can take and how to seek financial compensation.