Case #4067 Failure to Diagnose Heart Attack
On November 20, 2018, a jury in Montgomery County Maryland awarded $1.3 million to clients of Schochor, Federico & Staton, P.A. against an emergency room physician for the wrongful death of their 23-year-old son. The family was represented by associates Tara Clary and Jonathan Huddleston and partner Jonathan Goldberg.
The Plaintiff was a 23-year-old Army Reservist who went to the emergency room with severe chest pain that developed after weightlifting. He arrived at approximately 9:00 pm and underwent an EKG that was interpreted as being abnormal and showing evidence of an infarction. By 10:30 pm, additional tests revealed that the Plaintiff had suffered tissue damage to his heart and he continued to experience pain after receiving morphine. The Plaintiff was not diagnosed with a heart attack and no cardiologist was contacted. A second EKG was interpreted as being abnormal and showing an infarct and he was found to have additional cardiac tissue damage. He also continued to have 10/10 chest pain after receiving multiple doses of morphine and nitroglycerine. A physician’s assistant finally diagnosed a heart attack at approximately 1:30 am. The emergency room physician spoke to a cardiologist at that time but did not communicate that information and did not ask him to come to the hospital on an emergent basis to evaluate the patient. Had that been done, a cardiac catheterization would have been emergently performed which would have revealed a blood clot in one of the coronary arteries caused by an injury to the artery likely from weightlifting. The Plaintiff would have been successfully treated.
Due to the abnormal EKGs, the persistent and unrelenting chest pain and the elevated troponin levels, the standards of care required an immediate cardiac consultation and transfer for cardiac catheterization at both 10:30 pm and 1:30 am. Although the standards of care required the Plaintiff to be expeditiously worked up for a myocardial infarction and to promptly receive a catheterization, he remained in the emergency room without a catheterization for over fourteen hours.
The cardiologist finally came to the hospital at 9:00 am. By that time, the Plaintiff’s condition had worsened. His heart had suffered significant damage from the untreated heart attack. He was transferred to another hospital where he finally underwent a catheterization. Unfortunately, the blood clot had become more formed because it was untreated for many hours. The Plaintiff went into cardiac arrest during the procedure and died a few days later.
The Plaintiff is survived by his parents who brought the lawsuit.