Failing to Diagnose Aortic Dissection and Oregon Medical Malpractice

Oregon Medical Malpractice in Failing to Diagnose an Aortic Dissection


Any condition of the heart is a medical emergency which must be immediately evaluated and treated.  An aortic dissection is especially one of those types of serious cardiac emergencies.  When a patient comes to a hospital with the signs and symptoms of an aortic dissection, he or she needs to be treated as soon as practicable.  If an emergency department or healthcare staff fails to recognize the signs of an aortic dissection and treat the patient, it may lead to serious, irreversible damage to a patient’s heart.  In many cases the damage can result in the wrongful death of a patient.


Understanding an Aortic Dissection


An aorta is a large blood vessel carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body.  Think of an aorta as a pipe made up of multiple layers.  When the inner lining of the aortic tears, blood surges into that tear.  This causes the inner and middle layers to pull apart and separate, or dissect.  If left untreated, it can tear the final, outer layer which will cause death.  It can also cause damage to the entire body due to this diversion of blood and a lack of oxygenated blood.


Signs and Symptoms of an Aortic Dissection


The issue with an aortic dissection is that the symptoms are not always crystal-clear at the start.  But they are easily ruled out.  For instance, the symptoms of an aortic dissection are similar to a heart attack, pulmonary embolism, and stroke.  If it is not one of those conditions, the focus should turn back to the heart to assess for an aortic dissection.


The symptoms of an aortic dissection include the following:


  • Severe chest pain that feels like tearing, ripping, pulling, or shearing;
  • Severe upper back pain that radiating up and down the spine;
  • Loss of feeling/paralysis, weakness, or sensation to only one side of your body;
  • Difficulty speaking;
  • Loss of vision or blurry vision;
  • Weak pulse in one arm or thigh only on one side of the body;
  • Leg pain;
  • Difficulty walking, standing, and keeping balancing;
  • Leg paralysis, usually on the effected side of the body;
  • Shortness of breath; and
  • Other symptoms.


Misdiagnosing an Aortic Dissection


Because many of the symptoms mirror a heart attack or stroke, those are usually tested for immediately and first.  But when neither detected, the next step should be to check for an aortic dissection.  Some providers may check for a pulmonary embolism which is also not below the standard of care, but that can be quickly ruled out.  Once these three most common conditions are ruled out, a patient must be checked for an aortic dissection or it could be medical malpractice in failing to diagnose.


The tale-tell signs of an aortic dissection are the paralysis on one side of the body only, weak pulse on one side of the body only, and chest pain/back pain similar to a heart attack.  The ripping, tearing, pulling feeling is not always detected, but is a helpful symptom.  But if a stroke is not found, it is almost guaranteed to an an aortic dissection.  If a healthcare provider does not make that diagnosis, it is very likely that he or she has committed Oregon medical malpractice.


Failing to Diagnose an Aortic Dissection Could be Oregon Medical Malpractice


Victims who have had an aortic dissection misdiagnosed or not diagnosed may be entitled to compensation.  Unfortunately, many times those victims do not survive.  This means families will be able to stand in the shoes of a victim to commence a wrongful death action.  This is an action which seeks to recover compensation for the injuries that a victim sustained which caused his or her death.


If you or a loved one have had an aortic dissection misdiagnosed, call our Bend medical malpractice lawyer to learn what you rights may be.  We handle cases throughout Oregon and Central Oregon, including Deschutes County, Redmond, Sisters, La Pine, Madras, Prineville, The Dalles, Hood River, Clackamas, Corvallis, Albany, Lake Oswego, West Linn, Tigard, Salem, Portland, Hillsboro, Vancouver, Washington, Beaverton, Oregon City, Eugene, Coos Bay, Astoria, Newport, Pendleton, Tillamook,  Milwaukie, Gresham, Hillsboro, Medford, and any other city, including Bend, Oregon where our main law office is located, please call Kuhlman Law, LLC by dialing (541) 385-1999 to learn what your rights to compensation you may have.  You may also contact us using our easy and convenient “contact us” box at the bottom of our website.  If we accept your case, we will conduct a thorough investigation to get you the answers you deserve, all for free.  There is no risk, and you only pay us if we recover compensation for you.

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