Mediation of stroke case results in $2.9 million settlement

2005 Medical Malpractice Settlement Report

Failure to diagnose and treat an evolving stroke resulting in severe neurologic injuries

In 1999, the plaintiff was a 58 year-old African American man with a past medical history that included obesity, smoking, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and atherosclerotic vascular disease. His family history was significant in that his mother had suffered a stroke and myocardial infarction. In addition, it was noted that 10 out of 11 maternal aunts and uncles had suffered strokes or myocardial infarctions while in their 50’s.

On 3/11/99, the plaintiff presented to the defendant’s office with complaints of lightheadedness and nausea. Without any testing, the defendant diagnosed the plaintiff with an otitis media (middle ear infection) and prescribed an antibiotic and an antihistamine. The defendant further recommended that the plaintiff return to the office for follow-up in two weeks time.

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As instructed, the plaintiff returned to the defendant’s office on 3/29/99 after having completed the previously prescribed course of antibiotic therapy. On this date, the plaintiff informed the defendant that he continued to experience lightheadedness and nausea and was now also experiencing double vision as well. The defendant ordered no testing on this date but rather sent the plaintiff to see an ENT physician. The plaintiff was evaluated the 2 weeks later by the ENT who was unable to come to a definitive cause for the plaintiff’s dizziness and double vision. The medical records and findings of the ENT were available to the defendant. Despite being aware that there was still no cause for the plaintiff’s symptoms, the defendant did not perform any diagnostic testing on the plaintiff.

Over the next several weeks, the plaintiff continued to suffer from double vision and dizziness. On the morning of 6/2/99 the plaintiff phoned the defendant’s office to report severe lightheadedness and double vision. Instead of sending the plaintiff to an emergency room, the defendant scheduled an appointment for the plaintiff for 1:00 p.m. that afternoon. The plaintiff left his home later that morning and was heading to the defendant’s office but he never arrived. At 5:00 p.m. the plaintiff was found unresponsive in his car at the side of the road. On arrival to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center emergency department the plaintiff was noted to be unresponsive to all but painful stimuli. An emergent CT scan was performed and showed a small, old, right, perifrontal lacunar infarct. An MRI/MRA performed the following day revealed that there was no blood flow through Mr. Carrington’s right vertebral and basilar arteries (major blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the brain).

Today, the plaintiff resides in a nursing home. He is a quadriplegic and is only able to communicate by blinking his eyes in response to questions. Despite his severe brain injury, the plaintiff is completely aware of his surroundings and condition.

The plaintiff expected to present expert medical testimony that the defendant was negligent in his care and treatment of the plaintiff when he failed to rule out an evolving stroke as the cause for the plaintiff’s double vision and lightheadedness. The plaintiff further expected to present evidence that the plaintiff’s massive stroke would have been avoided had the defendant placed him on proper medication.

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It was anticipated that the defendant would present expert medical testimony stating that the defendant acted appropriately when he sent the plaintiff to a specialist to determine the cause of his problems. The defendant was further expected to present evidence that the blood vessels affected in the plaintiff’s brain, which caused the stroke, were small vessels and there would not have been treatment even if the defendant had made the diagnosis earlier.

Prior to the trial, the parties entered into a mediation process which resulted in a settlement of Two Million Nine Hundred Thousand Dollars ($2,900,000).

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this failure to diagnose and treat stroke lawsuit.

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