Congestive heart failure can be either an acute or chronic condition that may be manageable with lifestyle changes, medication and surgery to treat the underlying issue contributing to heart failure. Acute episodes occur when onset of the condition is rapid and without warning in comparison to chronic heart failure which occurs over a period of time and worsens without adequate treatment.
As the pumping chambers and wall muscles of the heart continue to weaken due to other conditions, it becomes increasingly difficult for the organ to effectively pump blood throughout the patient’s body. Consequently, blood begins to back up into other vital organs such as the liver, lungs, and abdomen leading to the development of congestive heart failure.
Symptoms of Heart Failure
Acute heart failure symptoms are similar to those of chronic sufferers although onset is sudden and symptoms may worsen at a rapid rate making it more difficult to manage without immediate medical intervention. Chronic heart failure patients experience signs such as fatigue, fluid retention in the lower extremities, reduced appetite and shortness of breath.
Those diagnosed with an acute form of congestive heart failure may also experience substantial chest pain and the coughing up of pink, foamy mucous. Given that certain symptoms are reflective of other heart and lung conditions it is essential that any individual exhibiting signs of heart failure promptly contact their primary care provider, or in instances of worsening symptoms, visit their local emergency room for urgent care needs.
Heart Failure Malpractice
Physicians are acutely aware of a patient’s medical history and risk factors associated with an increased risk of developing congestive heart failure. Failure to appropriately diagnose and provide effective treatment for patients exhibiting symptoms of heart failure can progress to irreversible damage and a potentially negative outcome. When medical professionals fail to adhere to the standard and optimal level of care expected by patients, their families and the medical community they risk being considered negligent.
Following a thorough physical examination and medical history if a patient’s symptoms suggest heart failure it is imperative that the attending physician order additional tests such as blood tests, X-rays, a stress test or an echocardiogram to further evaluate the patient’s current physical condition and arrive at an appropriate diagnosis. By failing to promptly diagnose heart failure or the condition which led to heart failure and subsequently resulted in harm to the patient, the doctor risks being held responsible for medical malpractice.