Case #1028: Cardiology Errors
On January 1, the Plaintiffs’ decedent, age 58, fell and fractured her tibia and fibula. She underwent surgery to repair the fractures on January 6, and was then transferred to the Defendant rehabilitation center for occupational and physical therapy. On January 12, a basic metabolic panel revealed that the decedent’s potassium levels were significantly elevated, putting her at risk for serious, and potentially fatal, cardiac complications. The Plaintiffs alleged that the standards of care required the Defendant health care providers to conduct an electrocardiogram and to transfer the patient to a medical facility for immediate intervention. Instead, the Defendants negligently failed to do so, and merely prescribed a slow-acting medication to counteract the effects of the elevated potassium levels. Subsequently, the decedent’s condition worsened; she developed chest pains and began to hyperventilate. Still, no action was taken by the Defendant health care providers until the next morning, when the decedent was found unresponsive. At that point, she was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The decedent’s surviving spouse filed a survival and wrongful death action seeking compensation for his wife’s pain and suffering, his grief, and funeral expenses, as well as lost household services.