Rhode Island Women and Misdiagnosis: What Illnesses Are Most Frequently Missed?

Certain diseases have earned the reputation as "men's diseases." A prime example is heart attack — but it's not just a man's disease. Sixty-two percent of women who suffer a heart attack do not survive.

According to the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, women account for 33 percent of bypass surgeries, including stents and angioplasties; 36 percent of heart surgeries including, open heart surgery; and 28 percent of implanted defibrillators.

Despite these statistics, women who arrive in an emergency room with symptoms of a heart attack, including pain in the chest, jaw, neck and arms, shortness of breath, nausea and otherwise unexplained cold sweats, are frequently treated for something else. Rhode Island medical malpractice attorneys have seen too many instances of a missed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of heart attack in female patients become fatal.

Leading Missed Diagnoses Among Women

Cancer, heart disease and strokes are among the leading diseases affecting women, and they are also most likely to be incorrectly diagnosed. Cardiovascular diseases — those that affect the heart and blood vessels — account for more than 400,000 deaths annually. According to the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, one in two women will fatally suffer stroke or heart disease.

Women must be especially vigilant with their own health. They should know their own personal medical histories and be aware of the risks they face.

Because of the likelihood of misdiagnosis of these medical conditions, it's important than women protect themselves. Understanding the symptoms they are experiencing as well as communicating them, as strongly as needed, with their attending physician may help more women survive a heart attack and stroke.

Changes Needed in the Medical Profession to Improve Rate of Misdiagnosis of Women 

Ignoring women's symptoms seems to be rampant in the medical community. Some medical students have reported that even when diseases and symptoms are discussed that affect women, the visuals and graphics used in the classroom depict the male form, not the female form.

While women can take steps to improve treatment and diagnosis, emergency room physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals treating women should stay current on the latest best practices to diagnose conditions and illnesses in women.

By knowing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, heart attack and stroke, women can improve the diagnosis and treatment they receive. If your doctor failed to diagnose a serious condition or your loved one died as a result of a missed or misdiagnosis, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney.