Lawyers at DBMS successfully litigate a wide variety of civil cases and argue appeals in some of the most challenging jurisdictions in the country.

Medical Malpractice

DBMS Successfully Defends Chicago Area Emergency Medicine Physicians




Defense Verdict


Stetson Atwood and Ashley Dus successfully defended three Chicago area emergency medicine physicians in a medical malpractice lawsuit involving allegations that the emergency medicine physicians failed to timely diagnose an acute heart attack. The patient, age 47, presented to the emergency department late in the evening of November 2, 2014. He had a history significant for coronary artery disease. He had stents placed in his left anterior descending artery at an outside hospital two weeks prior. The patient complained of severe chest pain rated 10 out of 10, and pain radiating down his arm. He was triaged and an initial EKG was performed. The initial EKG did not show an ST-segment myocardial infarction (“STEMI”). The patient was evaluated by an attending emergency medicine physician and a resident emergency medicine physician. The differential diagnosis included acute coronary syndrome versus aortic dissection. A repeat EKG was performed at 10:21 p.m., and the EKG showed interval changes as compared to the initial EKG. The 10:21 p.m. EKG did not meet criteria for a STEMI. However, the attending emergency medicine physician consulted the on call interventional cardiologist regarding the changes. The interventional cardiologist agreed that the EKGs did not meet criteria for STEMI, and agreed with the plan to obtain a CT angiogram to rule out aortic dissection. The attending emergency medicine physician also consulted the patient’s private cardiologist, who agreed with the assessment and admitted the patient to the telemetry floor. The CT angiogram was performed shortly after 12:00 a.m., and it was negative for aortic dissection. The patient was ultimately admitted to the telemetry floor at 12:57 a.m. The patient’s condition changed at approximately 1:20 a.m., when he vomited and became diaphoretic. A third EKG was obtained at that time due to the acute change in the patient’s condition. The EKG met criteria for a STEMI and the catheterization team was activated. The patient was taken to the catheterization lab by the on call interventional cardiologist. The patient had an acute stent thrombosis, but the on call interventionalist restored blood flow shortly after 3:00 a.m.


The plaintiffs alleged that the three emergency medicine physicians failed to order a repeat EKG to evaluate the patient for a heart attack while he was in the emergency department continuously complaining of severe chest pain. The plaintiffs claimed that, had the emergency medicine physicians ordered the repeat EKG, it would have shown an acute heart attack at an earlier time than occurred in this case, and the repeat EKG would have led the emergency medicine physicians to activate the cardiac catheterization team to restore blood flow in the patient’s coronary artery at an earlier time than was done in this case. Had the blood flow been restored at an earlier time, plaintiffs claimed the patient would have suffered only minimal heart damage. As a result of the alleged negligence, plaintiffs claimed that the patient suffered massive heart damage and can no longer work or participate in physical activities. The three emergency medicine physicians denied that they were negligent, and they denied that they caused the plaintiffs’ alleged injuries.


After a three-week trial, the plaintiffs asked for $8,750,000. The jury deliberated and returned a verdict in favor of all defendants, including the three emergency medicine physicians.