Sudden Cardiac Death Brings $1 Million Settlement

2020 Medical Malpractice Case Report
By Attorney Nicholas D. Cappiello

Lawsuit claims Holter monitor findings of rapid polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (PVT) required immediate hospital admission

Plaintiff’s decedent died at age 71 from cardiac arrest, a heart attack, and coronary artery disease (CAD) following an untreated life-threatening cardiac arrythmia revealed on a recent Holter monitor. Her prior medical history included hypertension, hyperlipidemia, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, A-fib, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and Stage 3 chronic kidney disease.

In May 2016, the plaintiff’s decedent presented to the defendant physician following a recent heart attack, recent onset of atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, and ongoing cardiac symptoms. The defendant physician ordered a 24-hour Holter monitor.

On 5/31/16, the 24-hour Holter monitor was initiated.

On 6/1/16, at 1:30 pm, the plaintiff’s decedent was in the defendant physician’s office to review the results of the Holter monitor. The defendant physician noted her heart rate and rhythm were “irregularly irregular” and noted her Holter findings, including A-fib, periods of slow ventricular response, and rapid polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (PVT). He related her symptoms to bradycardia and recommended permanent pacemaker placement and drug therapy (Amiodarone). His plan was to refer her to a specialist and to see her again within the next two weeks. Thereafter, the plaintiff’s decedent went home.

At 4:08 pm that afternoon, she was found pulseless and unresponsive by her husband. She was rushed to the hospital via ambulance but was unable to be revived. Her cause of death was cardiac arrest, myocardial infarction, and coronary artery disease.

The plaintiff’s claim was that the Holter monitor findings of rapid polymorphic ventricular tachycardia required immediate hospital admission because PVT is a potentially life-threatening arrhythmia that causes sudden, unpredictable, cardiac death. As such, it requires emergency cardiovascular evaluation, inpatient admission with cardiac monitoring, and ICD placement.

The plaintiff claimed that the defendant physician negligently failed to send the plaintiff’s decedent to the nearest emergency department for immediate hospitalization and instead permitted her to leave his office and go home with unmonitored and untreated PVT. As a direct result of the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff’s decedent suffered an unwitnessed cardiac arrest at home due to PVT. The plaintiff claimed that had the decedent been in the hospital at the time, her cardiac arrest would have been promptly recognized, she would have been promptly resuscitated, and more likely than not, she would not have died.

The defendant maintained that that nothing he did or failed to do caused the plaintiff’s decedent’s death and that her sudden cardiac arrest and death were not preventable.

The case was settled for $1 million.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys Andrew C. Meyer Jr. and Nicholas D. Cappiello represented the plaintiff in this lawsuit.

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