Failure to Diagnose Cardiac Condition $1,500,000

Failure to Diagnose Cardiac Condition $1,500,000.00
Type of Injuries: Death
Court/Case #:
Amount of Settlement: $1,500,000

Case Summary:
In February of 2002, plaintiff's decedent, a 41 year old man, presented to his primary care physician after having been discharged the previous weekend from a local hospital after having presented with complaints of chest pain. The primary care physician indicated in her notes that she would order the hospital records with an eye towards consulting with a cardiologist, depending on what was revealed in the hospital records. While hospitalized, his EKG was noted as being abnormal, and his troponin levels were elevated. Over the course of the next several months, the defendant PCP continued to see the plaintiff's decedent for various cholesterol and blood pressure checks. However, the defendant never ordered the hospital records, as she indicated she was going to do.

In July of 2002, plaintiff's decedent contacted the clinic where the PCP was employed, complaining of trouble breathing and feeling like he had a fist stuck in his upper stomach area. At that time, his condition was diagnosed by a nurse practitioner as gastroesophageal reflux disease and anxiety and he was prescribed Prevacid. A further phone call to the clinic that day resulted in the patient being told to try small meals and avoid fatty foods. He was not asked to come back in to the clinic. The next day, the symptoms remained unabated, and he contacted the clinic once again asking to speak with the defendant. The defendant, however, did not see or speak with her patient and noted on his chart that he should continue the Prevacid and drink chicken soup. The patient's wife called yet again the next day, and again, no action was taken by the defendant. His wife then took the patient to a local emergency room where he was ultimately diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. Despite transfer to a major cardiac center, his clinical course continued to deteriorate, and he died 11 days after the recent spate of phone calls had begun. It was only after her patient's death that the defendant ordered his hospital records.

The plaintiff was prepared to present testimony of a board certified internist, who was expected to testify that the defendant departed from standards of care by failing to obtain and review her patient's medical records from the hospitalization, as she indicated that she would do. Had she obtained the records, the defendant would have seen the abnormal electrocardiograms, the elevated troponin levels, and standards of care would have mandated that she obtain a cardiology consult, as she stated in her plan in the clinic chart. Plaintiff was also prepared to present the testimony of a board certified cardiologist, who was expected to testify that had the patient been referred in February of 2002 to a cardiologist, as he should have been, he would have been diagnosed with early stage cardiomyopathy and current treatment at the time would more probably than not have saved his life.

Both doctors were also prepared to testify that the care that was rendered in July of 2002 was also suboptimal, and although his cardiomyopathy was probably greatly advanced as of that time, he still would have had a chance of surviving with a heart transplant.