Case #4038 Heart Transplant Required as a Result of Medical Negligence
On the morning of April 13, the Plaintiff presented to her internist with complaints including, but not limited to, the onset of severe substernal chest pain, burning pain in the chest, shortness of breath, and pain radiating into her arms. The Plaintiff was a smoker, hypertensive, obese and had a history of asthma. The Plaintiff alleged that all of these findings constitute risk factors for heart disease and the prospect of unstable angina and/or impending myocardial infarction. Although her lungs were clear on exam, the Plaintiff’s internist diagnosed her with exacerbation of asthma and prescribed use of an inhaler.
Later that night, the Plaintiff presented to the Defendant emergency room, provided the same history as above, and indicated that her symptoms had not subsided all day despite following the recommended treatment. CPK studies performed were elevated indicating the overwhelming probability of an acute coronary syndrome. Nevertheless, the emergency room physician negligently failed to call for a cardiology consult, failed to order serial studies and failed to admit the Plaintiff or provide any appropriate medications. In fact, the Plaintiff was negligently discharged after the Defendant emergency room physician consulted with the Defendant internist with a diagnosis of “abdominal pain” and a prescription for Pepcid. Discharging the Plaintiff with a diagnosis of abdominal pain — a presenting symptom violated of the standards of care and, in this case, proved to be catastrophic. The Defendants discharged the Plaintiff with medication for indigestion while, in fact, the Plaintiff suffered with unstable angina.
The following morning, the Plaintiff again contacted her internist and reported that her symptoms, which had continued throughout the night, were even worse. Instead of seeing this patient, the Defendant internist directed the Plaintiff to the hospital radiology department for a VQ scan to rule out a pulmonary embolus. When the test was completed, the technician paged the Defendant, who was elsewhere in the hospital, and reported the negative results as well as the Plaintiff’s ongoing symptoms. Amazingly, the Defendant declined to see the Plaintiff at that time.
That evening, the Plaintiff went to another area hospital. Hospital personnel determined that the Plaintiff had, indeed, suffered a severe, anterior wall myocardial infarction since leaving the Defendant Hospital. The Plaintiff was subsequently transferred to a hospital that contained a cardiac center where it was confirmed that this 35-year-old Plaintiff requires a heart transplant due to the fact that she has a 26% ejection fraction directly resulting from the Defendant’s negligence.