Blood Clot Death: $1M Medical Malpractice Settlement

2015 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Lawsuit claims physician was negligent in failure to recognize signs and symptoms of blood clots and to order studies to confirm or rule out pulmonary embolism

On 10/25/12, the plaintiff’s decedent was struck by a bus while bicycling. He sustained multiple bilateral rib fractures and was admitted to the hospital for pain control, treatment with IV fluids and blood products as needed, pulmonary toilet and observation.

On 10/30/12, he was discharged home with dilaudid (2-4 mg, Q4 prn) to titrate over the next 2 weeks as his pain improved. Also, he was instructed to follow up with his PCP. On 10/31/12, Mr. Sinacore presented to his primary care physician, and complained of nausea and vertigo. The PCP noted that he had pain with any movement and moved slowly. His lungs were clear and his abdomen was soft and non-tender.

On 11/7/12, the patient’s wife called the PCP and reported that her husband was very short of breath after reading the police report from the bus accident. The PCP noted that the shortness of breath was likely anxiety but could be a pneumothorax, or another etiology and recommended that the patient go to the hospital for a chest x-ray and follow up at the PCP’s office for an examination and EKG.

The patient had the chest x-ray which revealed blunting of the left costophrenic sulcus with a small effusion, the acuity of which was uncertain, and then presented to his PCP. His heart rate was 95, blood pressure 132/82, temperature 97.8 and he had a below normal oxygen saturation of 86%. The PCP noted the patient’s problem list including morbid obesity, hyperlipidemia, and chest wall pain from the accident. The PCP noted that the patient was not short of breath and his lungs were clear with decreased inspiration due to chest wall pain. The PCP noted that the patient‘s oxygen saturation level only went up to 86% on room air and he also had complaints of dizziness and lightheadedness. The PCP encouraged the patient to engage in deep breathing and recommended that he contact the office with any recurrent symptoms.

On 11/13/12, the plaintiff’s decedent collapsed and died. An autopsy revealed the cause of death was from bilateral pulmonary thromboemboli due to probable deep venous thrombosis as a result of recent blunt force injury of the torso and subsequent relative immobility.

The plaintiff claimed the PCP was negligent in not recognizing the patient’s signs and symptoms of blood clots, and in not ordering a CT angiogram of the pulmonary arteries to confirm or rule out the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism. The defendant denied liability, however the case settled early in discovery for the policy limits of $1,000,000.

The plaintiff had previously brought an action against the bus company for wrongful death. That matter settled for $3,850,000 prior to the medical malpractice claim being filed.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys Andrew C. Meyer, Jr. and William J. Thompson represented the plaintiff in this medical malpractice lawsuit.

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