Myocarditis symptoms, misdiagnosis, and medical malpractice

 

Myocarditis is a dangerous condition that impacts heart pumping and rhythm

 
August 27, 2018

Myocarditis is a dangerous, life-threatening illness characterized by the inflammation of the heart muscle, or myocardium. Its danger lies in two conditions caused by the inflammation. First, it can disrupt the way that the heart muscle functions, causing decreased performance and pumping blood. Second, it can cause an arrhythmia, which is an irregular electrical rhythm of the heartbeat.

Symptoms of myocarditis

The early symptoms of myocarditis are somewhat non-specific, which means that healthcare providers need to pay careful attention to them. Some patients with early myocarditis have no symptoms at all, but others experience shortness of breath or chest pain.

As myocarditis progresses into a more serious stage, the symptoms become more pronounced, including chest pain, arrhythmia (faster abnormal heartbeat), fatigue, shortness of breath, swelling of the lower extremities, and general symptoms of a viral-type cold.

As a medical malpractice attorney, in Houston, Texas, I have handled a number of cases involving myocarditis. One case comes to mind involving a child. Children suffering from myocarditis have symptoms that are a little different, including fever, breathing problems, abnormal heart rhythms, and even fainting.

What causes myocarditis?

There are a variety of different causes of myocarditis, but all of them involve a foreign invader. The list includes viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites.

Danger

It is easy to imagine that any condition affecting the heart’s ability to function efficiently and normally can be life-threatening. Of course, some of the most common results of myocarditis that is not promptly diagnosed and treated include heart problems.

When the disease is allowed to progress to the point that it permanently damages heart muscle, it can cause heart failure and require the patient to undergo heart transplant. Myocarditis can also cause, heart attack, stroke, a permanent arrhythmia condition, and sudden cardiac death.

Misdiagnosis of myocarditis

I recently reviewed the details of the case involving a 37-year-old male who went to an urgent care clinic to be evaluated for complaints including fever, cough, and chest pains. On exam, the patient’s temperature was 101 degrees, and he reported not feeling well for a few days.

It was flu season, so the nurse practitioner seeing the patient did a quick exam and incorrectly diagnosed him with bronchitis. She ordered of prescription antibiotic and told him to get some rest and come back if he did not get better within a few days.

The next morning, friends found the man deceased in his bed.

In the lawsuit, a medical expert for the patient’s family (his wrongful death beneficiaries) testified that any time a patient reports chest pains to a healthcare provider, the standard of care requires ordering electrocardiogram (EKG). Sadly, if the nurse practitioner had ordered the EKG, it would have shown myocarditis, which could have been treated. On cross-examination at trial, the nurse practitioner admitted that the urgent care clinic had an EKG machine and that she typically orders an EKG when a patient presents with chest pain.

Based on the evidence, the jury reached a $4.8 million verdict for the plaintiffs.

We are here to help

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by hospital, nursing, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, physician, or cardiologist care, then the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Painter Law Firm, in Houston, Texas, are here to help. Click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800.

All consultations are free and, because we only represent clients on a contingency fee, you will owe us nothing unless we win your case. We handle cases in the Houston area and all over Texas. We are currently working on medical malpractice lawsuits in Houston, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Conroe, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Bryan/College Station, and Waco.

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Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Association, he was honored, in 2017, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. In May 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.

Robert Painter

Robert Painter is a medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm PLLC.

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