A 49 year-old decedent suffered sudden onset of sharp, severe scapular pain at home. The pain was transient, lasting less than 30 minutes.
Decedent was taken to the hospital emergency room and evaluated by an emergency room resident and an attending emergency medicine physician. A cardiac workup was instituted, with a blood draw for cardiac enzymes.
The first cardiac enzyme was negative for heart attack. Testimony was disputed as to reason patient left emergency area without hospitalization.
Plaintiff contended that the decedent was told that a cardiac cause had been ruled out, and that he had a pulled muscle. The defense contended that decedent was instructed to be admitted into the hospital for further testing, but refused based on the advice of his brother-in-law.
Decedent’s brother-in-law, a physician, was in the emergency room that evening. The brother-in-law testified that he did not participate in any discussions concerning medical care and did not give any advice to decedent.
The emergency room record as charted by defendants indicated that the patient left with a diagnosis of “musculoskeletal chest pain,” and did not make any specific reference that the decedent was advised to be admitted into the hospital for further testing or cardiac follow-up.
Decedent returned home after a three-hour evaluation at the emergency room. Decedent had no symptoms until another sudden onset 10 days later, when he quickly went into arrhythmia and died.
Plaintiff contended that decedent suffered from acute coronary syndrome, which would have easily been diagnosed upon admission to the hospital and a proper cardiac workup.
The defense contended that the final event was caused by a massive MI which could not have been predicted and would not necessarily have been avoided even with proper follow up.
Plaintiff asked for $9 million in damages. The jury returned a verdict in favor of defendants.