Have a Story to Tell? Had a medical error?

This blog is about patient safety, medical malpractice, staying healthy, and preventing future errors. Help & empower someone else, Teach a lesson, Bear witness, Build our community - Email us or call 781-444-5525.

Frustrated with a health problem?

Need an ally in your health crisis? Call 781-444-5525, or learn more.

Monday, May 28, 2007

I wish I had been more demanding: Misdiagnosed heart attack

A North Texas woman said she is lucky to be alive after surviving a massive heart attack.

Gretchen Minchew, 56, drew the attention of cardiologists who said her condition might have gone unnoticed because she is a woman. The hospital’s director of cardiology said she could have been misdiagnosed based on a stress test.

Gretchen had taken a typical stress test that puts the patient on a treadmill while doctors monitor the heart. She said she passed the stress test, but doctors said they thought it was a pinched nerve in her arm.

"The stress test is notoriously not accurate in women," Dr. Michael Rothkopf said. "It's maybe 50% accurate. With imaging, it may have been more accurate and would have shown the problem."

"I wish I had been more demanding," Gretchen said. "I wish I had said, 'I think it's more than that.'"

She said she hopes her experience will educate more women with similar symptoms – severe numbness in her arm.

Doctors said heart disease is the No. 1 killer in women. Only 30% of women experience chest pain.

Advice for women: If you suspect your true diagnosis is more severe than what your doctor thinks, ask what else it could be.

Read another of our women’s heart health stories, or read NBC’s source story.

No comments: