Heart Attack Malpractice Settlement Is $1 Million
2011 Medical Malpractice Trial Report
Misread EKG and failure to order further studies and monitoring leads to heart attack death of 53 year old woman
The plaintiff’s decedent was a 53 year old woman with a past medical history significant for arthritis, smoking, surgical excision of an acoustic neuroma, chronic pain syndrome, hysterectomy, gastric bypass surgery, and fibromyalgia.
On 7/15/05 at 11:15 p.m., the patient presented to an Emergency Department with complaints of one day of chest pain that radiated to her left arm, face, head, and back. Her vital signs upon arrival were blood pressure 164/91, heart rate 92, and respiratory rate 16. An EKG reported normal sinus rhythm, possible left atrial enlargement but could not rule out inferior infarct. At 12:00 a.m. cardiac enzymes were drawn and reported as negative.She was examined by the ER doctor who instructed her to follow-up with her primary care physician for pain management.
On 7/17/05 at 5:06 p.m., the patient presented to a different Emergency Department with complaints of left sided head pain that traveled down into her left scapula, down her left arm, and into her left chest. She reported that the symptoms had worsened over the past two days. The triage nurse noted that the patient had a stress test scheduled for 7/26/05.Her vital signs were blood pressure 122/76, heart rate 118, respiratory rate 20, and pulse oxygenation 98% on room air.She was examined by the defendant ER doctor who obtained the recent records from the other Emergency Department. The defendant noted that an EKG revealed a normal sinus rhythm with diffuse ST changes which was unchanged from the previous EKG performed at the other ED earlier that week. There were no laboratory studies drawn. The defendant diagnosed the patient with left arm and shoulder pain probably secondary to nerve entrapment and instructed her to follow-up with her primary care physician.
The next day, the patient returned to the same ED complaining of chest pain. Work-up revealed a myocardial infarction. She was transferred to a tertiary care facility for catheterization. Post procedure, she continued to deteriorate and the decision was made to place her on comfort care only and withdraw life support. She died on 7/20/05 from cardiopulmonary arrest secondary to a myocardial infarction.
The plaintiff’s experts opined that the EKG from the first ED dated 7/15/05 revealed flat T-waves and the EKG from the second ED dated 7/17/05 revealed deepened inverted T-waves. This was a distinct change in the patient’s EKG and required further work-up.
The plaintiff claimed that the defendant deviated from the accepted standard of care for the average qualified ER doctor when he failed to accurately interpret and identify the changes in the patient’s EKG, failed to order cardiac enzyme laboratory studies, failed to order a cardiology consultation; and failed to admit the patient to the hospital for cardiac monitoring and further evaluation.
The defendant contended that he met the standard of care and that the patient’s death was an unfortunate medical outcome that could not have been foreseen or prevented. In addition, the defendant contended that the plaintiff’s decedent had a limited life expectancy given her health issues.
The case settled one month prior to trial for the full policy limits of $1,000,000.
Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this lawsuit.
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