Case #1113: Aortic Dissection

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On November 7, the Decedent, age 43, saw the Defendant Physician. On presentation, the Decedent demonstrated signs and symptoms indicative of an aortic aneurysm/dissection (i.e. chest pain, evidence of pericardial effusion, aortic regurgitation, in addition to aortic dilatation). The Plaintiff alleged that the Decedent required a CT scan with contrast, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), or a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE). Any of these tests and/or studies, if performed as required by the standards of care, would have confirmed the diagnosis of an aortic aneurysm/dissection, requiring immediate admission to the hospital.

A STAT (emergency) cardiac surgical consultation would have been obtained on a timely basis and the Decedent would have undergone surgery on an immediate basis. The Plaintiff alleged that had that occurred as required by the standards of care, the Decedent would have made an uneventful recovery, and would have returned to his family and resumed all of his activities with no deficits whatsoever.

Subsequently, the Decedent re-presented to the Defendant Physician’s office on November 21. The Defendant Physician noted left ventricular hypertrophy with pericardial effusion and mild aortic loop dilatation. Incredibly, the Defendant again negligently failed to perform any tests or studies required, negligently failed to rule in or rule out aneurysm/dissection.

The Decedent finally collapsed on December 14. He was rushed via ambulance to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Autopsy protocol confirmed that his cause of death resulted from cardiac tamponade due to an undiagnosed and untreated aortic dissection.