Wrongful death case settles for $1.9M

Failure to properly interpret MRI results in brain bleed and death of 27 year old woman

Medical Malpractice Trial Report, 2007

The plaintiff’s decedent presented to the Hospital Emergency Department on 2/7/00 with complaints of a constant occipital headache of three weeks duration with blurry vision. During this evaluation, a CT scan of the brain was obtained and reported as unremarkable. She was given Fioricet for her headache and discharged home with instructions to follow-up with her primary care physician within the next two days. The decedent’s headache persisted, however, despite the Fioricet, so she went to her PCP on 2/9/00 for evaluation. As a result of this evaluation, the decedent was sent to see an ophthalmologist, and then admitted to the hospital for treatment of possible optic neuritis and to obtain a neurology consultation.

While hospitalized, the decedent’s headache and vision loss persisted, she was seen in consultation by neurology, underwent lumbar puncture, numerous laboratory studies, and was given intravenous steroids. She ultimately underwent an MRI of the brain on 2/10/00. This MRI examination was interpreted by the first defendant. The defendant made findings in areas of the brain which he believed to represent normal anatomic variants and dictated his final interpretation as an unremarkable exam. Plaintiff’s expert reviewed the same MRI films and was prepared to testify that the findings seen by the defendant were NOT normal anatomic variants but rather, these findings represented the effects of intraluminal thrombus (clot) within these structures. Plaintiff’s experts were prepared to testify that the MRI indicated that the clot was not completely occlusive at the time of study and that treatment at that time could have prevented further clot or total occlusion and the patient’s death.

The decedent remained hospitalized as her headache and vision loss continued. She was seen in consultation on several occasions by the neurologist (also a defendant). Despite her continuing symptoms, the neurologist never ordered any further imaging studies or tests to determine the cause of her headaches and visual disturbances. The records show that on the evening of 2/14/00, the decedent was complaining of leg weakness and had an unsteady gait. At approximately 1:30 a.m. on 2/15/00 she became confused and at approximately 2:30 a.m. appeared to be in respiratory distress and she experienced a seizure. A CT scan of the brain obtained later that morning revealed a hemorrhage in the right temporal lobe with associated right sided subdural and subarachnoid blood. Edema and moderate mass effect were also noted. Shortly after, she was intubated for airway protection and transferred to New England Medical Center. Once transferred her condition continued to deteriorate and she was declared brain dead on 2/16/00. She was only 27 years old at the time and she left 2 minor children.

Plaintiff’s experts were prepared to testify that the patient died from progression of her thrombus which was first seen on the 2/10/00 MRI but never identified or treated.

The defendants were prepared to present expert testimony that the MRI was properly interpreted and did not show evidence of clot or thrombus. Furthermore, they were expected to present evidence that it was perfectly reasonable and within the accepted standard of care for the neurologist to rely on the radiologist’s interpretation of a normal brain MRI and to not personally review/interpret the MRI himself.

The case was scheduled for trial in April 2007 and settled prior to trial for $1,900,000.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this misinterpreted MRI lawsuit.

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