Medical Malpractice: Study Finds Women Less Likely to Receive Life Saving Treatment for Heart Issues
New research published in the December issue of Women’s Health Issues reveals that sexism in healthcare is literally killing women. Researchers at George Washington University measured gender bias in emergency situations by analyzing data from the National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS) database. The dataset included about 2.4 million people total; 1.2 million of them were women. Patients were spread across 46 states and focused on people over the age of 40 with a higher risk of heart disease and cardiac arrest. They found that women are less likely than men to be resuscitated (1.3 percent), given aspirin (2.8 percent), receive cardiac defibrillation (8.6 percent) or rushed to the hospital in ambulances using lights and sirens (4.6 percent). The bottom line is that women’s lives are more often put in danger than men in emergency health situations.
Professor of public health and senior author of the study, Melissa McCarthy, acknowledged that the differences in treatment were fairly small. Regardless, she expressed concern about the high portion of patients who do not receive “evidence-based therapies” while in an emergency health situation and that women were more likely to fall into this category than men. “We also cannot rule out the possibility that there is an under-appreciation of women’s heart disease risk by EMS [emergency medical service] providers, particularly given that differences between the genders were larger for individuals less than 65 years old.”
Women and heart attacks
Although the most common heart attack symptom for women is the same as for men (pressure or discomfort in the chest), it is often not as severe or prominent in women as it is in men. Some women experience a heart attack without any chest pains at all. Women are also more likely than man to experiences symptoms other than chest pains when experiencing a heart attack:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Shortness of breath
- Discomfort in the jaw, neck, shoulders, upper back, or abdomen
- Pain in the right arm
These symptoms are dangerous because they can be more subtle than chest pains. Women also may experience chest pains as pressure or tightness instead of a crushing feeling because women are likely to have blockages in smaller arteries along with their main arteries; a condition called small vessel heart disease or microvascular disease. Women may experience symptoms of heart disease while they are resting or asleep; mental stress can also trigger symptoms.
Medical malpractice: failure to diagnose heart issues
When a medical professional fails to recognize the signs and symptoms of heart disease, heart attack or stroke when another qualified health professional would have recognized the signs then he or she may have acted negligently.
A medical malpractice attorney must prove three basic points to bring a viable medical malpractice claim:
- That a doctor-patient relationship existed when the alleged failure to diagnose occurred. This means simply that the patient was examined or treated by the doctor.
- That the doctor’s actions qualify as negligence. A doctor has acted negligently when he or she fails to provide the quality of care that a reasonable physician would have provided under a similar set of circumstances.
- That the patient suffered harm directly because of that negligence. For example, when a doctor fails to diagnose heart disease and the patient goes on to have a fatal heart attack that could have been prevented with diagnosis and evidence-based therapies, the patient has suffered harm that could have been prevented with proper care.
If you or a loved one is suffering from an injury as a result of an accident or error caused by the negligence of another, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!