Issue: February 2015
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Mending a Broken Heart: Malpractice Risks in Diagnosing and Treating Heart Disease

Introduction

Heart Disease Litigation

About 600,000 people in the United States die of heart disease every year, which is one in every four U.S. deaths. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The most common type of heart disease – coronary heart disease – kills nearly 380,000 people each year and costs $108.9 billion annually. A recent study indicated that more than half of all men and women over the age of 45 will develop heart disease during their lifetimes.

 

Even though heart disease is so common, mistakes can be made in diagnosing and treating this ailment. These mistakes may give rise to medical malpractice or negligence claims, which can result in high settlement and awards.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, and other parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with the diagnosis or treatment of heart disease.

 

February is National Heart Month. The American Heart Association and other organizations encourage everyone to live a heart healthy life.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed to establish medical malpractice or negligence in the diagnosis or treatment of heart disease? And, what is a potential strategy for the attorney to employ?

Physicians:

How can liability for medical malpractice be avoided for an injury resulting from the diagnosis or treatment of heart disease? And, what is a potential strategy for the physician to employ?

Insurers:

Can a payout under a medical malpractice liability policy be avoided by proof that the health provider was not negligent or there was no coverage for the provider’s actions? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ?

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for an employee’s heart disease? And, what is a potential strategy for the employer to use? 


Practice the Technique: Checklists

Attorneys:

Check this list of facts and circumstances tending to show a provider’s liability for malpractice or negligence in diagnosing or treating heart disease.

Physicians:

A physician should review the items on this list when defending against claims of malpractice or negligence involving the diagnosis or treatment of heart disease.

Insurers:

The insurer should check these “red flags” and inconsistencies when investigating a claim of malpractice in diagnosing and treating heart disease. 

Employers:

Use this checklist to determine if the employee’s heart disease or a related injury is “work related” and occurred “in the course of the employment.”

Expert Analysis

How Does a Delay in Diagnosis of Heart Disease Lead To a Malpractice Action?

Jeffrey T. Meyers, JD

What Guidelines Should Physicians Follow When Diagnosing and Treating Heart Disease?

Elliott Antman, MD

What Problems Do Physicians Encounter When Diagnosing Cardiovascular Diseases?

J. Russell Strader, MD, CPE, FACC

Litigation

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Arbitration or mediation may be required by contract or statute, may be mandated by the court or, in some circumstances, may be the appropriate method for a negotiated resolution.


Reasons To Reach Settlement

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to reach settlement, and not take the action to trial.


Reasons To Go To Trial

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to take the action to trial.  


Jury Awards and Settlements

How much have juries awarded and what settlements have been reached recently in malpractice cases involving heart disease?



Medical Examples

Heart Disease

This section provides detailed medical information on specific heart diseases, the causes and risk factors for heart disease, and the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and complications of these diseases. This section also discusses the patient’s prognosis, rehabilitation, and ability to work.



Law and Medicine Resources

Law and Medicine Resources

Provided is a listing of law and medical resources for further information on heart disease.


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Mending a Broken Heart: Malpractice Risks in Diagnosing and Treating Heart Disease

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   Jeffrey T. Meyers, JD
   Elliott Antman, MD
   J. Russell Strader, MD, CPE, FACC

The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy
   Attorneys
   Physicians and Health Providers
   Insurers
   Employers and Risk Managers

Practice the Technique: Checklists
   Attorney Checklist
   Physician Checklist
   Insurer Checklist
   Employer Checklist

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Reasons To Reach Settlement

Reasons To Go To Trial

Jury Awards and Settlements

Heart Disease

Law and Medicine Resources