On February 14, 2013, a Virginia medical malpractice jury awarded $25 million to a man whose cardiologist treated his serious heart condition with an over-the-counter medication and three months later he suffered a massive heart attack. The 37-year-old man had gone to the hospital in January, 2010 after his sudden onset of chest pain that radiated into his jaw and into his left arm. The cardiologist diagnosed the man as having a mild infection of his heart after the cardiologist reviewed the results of medical tests that were ordered to check whether the man had blockages in his coronary arteries that the cardiologist interpreted as showing no abnormalities with the man’s coronary arteries.
A later review of the original test results by a cardiologist in the same practice as the original cardiologist led to a disagreement as to the original cardiologist’s interpretation of the January 2010 test results. The experts who testified for the parties during the medical malpractice trial also disagreed as to the results of the January 2010 medical test: the medical malpractice plaintiff’s experts testified that the man’s coronary arteries were severely blocked and required a stent procedure whereas the medical malpractice defendant’s experts testified that the blockages were not so severe as to require a stent.
The medical malpractice jury, which viewed the January 2010 test results itself, heard testimony and considered evidence for three days and deliberated for three and a half hours before siding with the plaintiff and his experts when it returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $25 million. The jury had heard testimony with regard to the plaintiff’s harms that resulted from his massive heart attack, which include becoming severely winded after walking up only two flights of stairs or after a long conversation. The evidence during trial established that the man will require a heart transplant within five years and that he has only a 50% chance of living ten years after a heart transplant.
Unfortunately for the plaintiff and his family, Virginia’s cap on medical malpractice damages, of which the medical malpractice jury was not advised because Virginia law does not permit the jury to be told about the cap, will reduce the $25 million verdict that the seven-member jury considered to fair compensation for the harms suffered by the man to $2 million.
We must ask the question: does $2 million fairly and adequately compensate the 37-year-old man, who has a wife and children, for his massive heart attack that would have been avoided if proper medical care had been timely provided but instead, as a result of negligent medical care, he must hope for a heart transplant within five years and he has only a 50/50 chance of living until his 52nd birthday? Who will take care of his family, both financially and emotionally, if he dies at such a young age because a doctor negligently misinterpreted medical test results?
If you or a loved one unnecessarily suffered harms in Virginia or in another state in the United States due to medical malpractice, you should promptly seek the advice of a Virginia medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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