On August 14, 2015, after a three-week trial and two hours of jury deliberations, a Georgia medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $3.5 million, for which two of the defendant physicians are responsible for $1.75 million (the jury also awarded $1.75 million against the hospital where the alleged medical negligence occurred, but the hospital had settled with the plaintiff before trial).
The plaintiff was the widower of a woman who had gone to a hospital emergency room in 2011, complaining of severe abdominal pain. The hospital’s medical staff evaluated the woman for gastrointestinal issues but never considered that the source of the woman’s pain could be cardiac in nature. As a result, an electrocardiogram (EKG) was not performed at bedside in the emergency room, which the plaintiff alleged in his Georgia medical malpractice lawsuit would have revealed an impending massive heart attack that could have been prevented with timely and proper diagnosis and treatment.
An EKG was performed the following day that was marked as abnormal, but there was no physician available to interpret the EKG at that time.
One of the defendant physicians was a surgeon who the woman worked with at the hospital (the woman worked at the hospital where she died). The defendant surgeon had sent the woman home from work earlier in the day because she had nausea and abdominal pain. According to the plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawsuit, the defendant surgeon told his wife that she could either go home or he would admit her to the hospital. The woman chose to go home but when she arrived at her home, her husband observed her distress and immediately instructed her to return to the hospital.
The Georgia medical malpractice jury determined that the defendant surgeon, who admitted the woman to the hospital, was 30% responsible. The defendant surgeon argued that he properly admitted the woman to the hospital and that he did not breach the applicable medical standard of care by reasonably concluding that she was suffering from reflux, an ulcer, or gastritis. The plaintiff’s attorneys argued that the defendants had failed to consider that the woman was suffering from heart disease, which is a leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.
The medical malpractice jury determined that one of the defendant internists was 20% responsible but that the other defendant internist, who had ordered the EKG the day after the woman was admitted to the hospital but was not advised that the results were abnormal, had no responsibility for the woman’s death.
If you or a loved one were injured as a result of the failure to diagnose a heart attack, you should promptly find a local medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medial negligence claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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