Doc pays $750,000 for heart attack death

2005 Medical Malpractice Settlement Report

Failure to diagnose and treat signs and symptoms of myocardial infarction leads to death of 56 year-old man just hours after evaluation

The plaintiff’s decedent was a 56 year-old man who suffered a fatal myocardial infarction, just hours after being evaluated by the defendant at a walk in clinic for complaints of chest pain. The defendant performed an EKG which was determined to be “borderline abnormal” with ST-T abnormalities. The EKG printout indicated that the defendant should check for causes of arrhythmia, and that the identified changes may be non-specific or may indicate myocardial ischemia or ventricular hypertrophy. A Holter ECG or echocardiogram was recommended. The defendant diagnosed the plaintiff’s decedent with a cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and angina (chest pain as a result of decreased oxygenation of the heart muscle), but failed to send him to the nearest Emergency Room for further evaluation and performance of an ECG or echocardiogram, and instead sent the decedent home with instructions to take aspirin. The defendant also scheduled an appointment to follow up with a cardiologist three days later. Unfortunately, the decedent died later that same evening.

Plaintiff’s expert was prepared to testify that the decedent’s EKG showed changes consistent with myocardial ischemia and together with his complaints of chest pain the picture was consistent with an evolving myocardial infarction, which required immediate evaluation in a hospital setting. Less than 10 hours after being evaluation by the defendant, the decedent suffered a cardiopulmonary arrest and died in bed.

The defendant was expected to testify that the EKG changes were not impressive or suspicious for an evolving myocardial infarction and that it was reasonable to schedule follow-up with a cardiologist in 3 days time. The defendant was also expected to testify that he instructed the decedent to go immediately to the emergency room if his chest pain returned (he was pain free in the clinic).

The case was settled on the morning of trial for $750,000.

Medical malpractice attorneys from Lubin & Meyer represented the plaintiff in this lawsuit.

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