On February 6, 2012, a 41-year-old woman went to the defendant hospital’s emergency room, complaining of severe pain in her left shoulder that radiated down her left arm. She was admitted to the hospital and a cardiac evaluation was ordered due to her symptoms. As part of the cardiac evaluation, a cardiac catheterization was ordered in order to determine if the woman had blockages in her cardiac arteries that were causing her symptoms and which, if any blockages existed, would have to be timely evaluated and appropriately treated to protect her health.
For some unexplained reason, one of the defendant physicians canceled the cardiac catheterization and failed to reschedule it. The woman was discharged from the defendant hospital on February 16, 2012. Four days later, during the evening of February 20, 2012, the woman returned to the defendant hospital by ambulance with complaints of pain in her left shoulder that radiated down her left arm and shortness of breath. Within six hours of her arrival at the defendant hospital’s emergency room, the woman went into full cardiac arrest and died as a result.
An autopsy determined that the woman had an undiagnosed heart attack of several days’ duration, according to the Pennsylvania medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit filed by the woman’s husband in January 2014 on behalf of her estate, their two children, and himself. The Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the defendant hospital and two defendant physicians breached the standard of care by negligently failing to properly and timely diagnose the woman’s heart condition that led to her death on February 21, 2012 (one of the defendant physicians diagnosed the woman with pneumonia).
The $3.5 million settlement was reportedly approved by the court on August 3, 2017 following a hearing on the fairness of the settlement. The medical malpractice insurers for the defendants reportedly will pay $2 million of the settlement and the Pennsylvania Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund (Mcare) will pay $1.5 million of the settlement. The woman’s estate reportedly will receive $1.91 million of the settlement. The plaintiff’s Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyers will receive just under $1.6 million ($1.4 million in attorney fees and $187,848 in expenses). Of the $1.91 million going to the woman’s estate, the woman’s husband will receive one-half plus $30,000 (pursuant to Pennsylvania law) and their two children, ages 15 and 18, will receive the balance that will be placed in a trust for their benefit.
Heart Attacks In Women
According to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2014, women age 55 or younger may fare worse than their male counterparts after having a heart attack. Researchers studied records and interviews of 3,501 people (67 percent women) who had heart attacks in the United States and Spain in 2008-12. One year after their heart attack, women were more likely than men to have poorer physical functioning, poorer mental functioning, lower quality of life, more chest pain, and worse physical limitations.
A study published in November 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine entitled “Sex Differences in Acute Coronary Syndrome Symptom Presentation in Young Patients” found that chest pain is the hallmark and critical distinguishing symptom used to initiate diagnostic testing for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and urgent lifesaving therapy. However, up to 35% of patients with ACS do not report chest pain. These patients are more likely to have a misdiagnosis in the emergency department and a higher risk of death compared with those with chest pain. Women are more likely to present without chest pain than men (1 in 5 women with diagnosed ACS do not report chest pain). ACS severity was similar in patients with and without chest pain. The majority of patients without chest pain express at least one other non–chest pain symptom.
If you or a loved one suffered harm as a result of undiagnosed heart disease or an undiagnosed heart attack in Pennsylvania or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your possible medical negligence claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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