Stroke Lawsuit Settlement: $3.75 Million in Massachusetts

2017 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Failure to properly treat atrial fibrillation leads to massive stroke — after patient's Coumadin was discontinued

On 6/4/10 the plaintiff went to the emergency room complaining of shortness of breath and sweating. After several days in the hospital, he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation. The cardiologist who cared for the plaintiff in the hospital placed him on Coumadin in order to prevent blood clots due to his atrial fibrillation. The plaintiff was set up for an appointment with the defendant cardiologist after discharge to manage his atrial fibrillation.

On 6/14/10 the plaintiff saw the defendant cardiologist in his office for the first time. The defendant’s plan was to evaluate the plaintiff in 2 months and keep him on the Coumadin.

Two months later, on 8/30/10, the plaintiff saw the defendant again for follow-up. After a brief exam, the defendant decided that the plaintiff was not at increased risk for developing blood clots from his atrial fibrillation and he discontinued the plaintiff’s Coumadin. The plaintiff continued to see the defendant for check-ups over the next 16 months. At no point in time did the defendant ever prescribe Coumadin or any type of anticoagulation medication.

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On 2/10/12 the plaintiff arrived via ambulance at the emergency room with complaints of left-sided facial droop and complete left-sided weakness. An electrocardiogram revealed that his heart was in atrial fibrilation. He was quickly diagnosed with having an evolving stroke from a clot in his brain and was given clot-busting medication. Despite the rapid treatment, the plaintiff was left with an inability to use the left side of his body and was confined to a wheelchair. He requires assistance with most of his activities of daily living.

The plaintiff consulted an expert cardiologist who was expected to opine that the defendant was negligent in discontinuing the plaintiff’s Coumadin. It was the expert’s opinion that the plaintiff was at very high risk for developing blood clots from his atrial fibrillation if not on anti-coagulation medication. The expert further was expected to testify that the plaintiff’s stroke would not have occurred if he was on medication.

The defendant was expected to present expert medical testimony that taking the plaintiff off his Coumadin was a judgment call and not negligent in his situation as it was his opinion that the plaintiff was not at a significantly increased risk for developing blood clots.

The case settled after discovery was completed for $3,750,000.

Hampden Superior Court

Lubin & Meyer attorneys for the plaintiff: Andrew C. Meyer and Robert M. Higgins.

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