The standard cliché is that hindsight is always 20-20, but sometimes that old cliché proves true. Such is the case in the medical malpractice suit involving a man who went to his doctor complaining of indigestion. He was sent home with a prescription for an antacid medication, when he should have been referred to the local emergency room. Two hours after the initial visit to his doctor, the man died of cardiac arrest. Subsequently, a jury in Cook County found the doctor guilty of medical malpractice.
The case was reported in the Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter.
This suit stems from a Jan. 26, 2007 case involving W.H., who went to his internist, Dr. Wayne Blake at Hope Medical in Blue Island. W.H. complained of mid-chest discomfort, cough and some sweating. All of his vital signs were normal, however, and he reported his discomfort was relieved by belching. W.H. had a previous history of heart disease, with angioplasties and stenting, so the doctor ordered an EKG. Results of the EKG appeared normal and similar to an EKG performed the year before.
Dr. Blake thought W.H. might have bronchitis, but in light of a prior diagnosis of GERD (gastroesophogeal reflux disease), he proscribed Prilosec (an antacid) and ordered a chemical stress test to be done within a month. He also called for a chest x-ray if the symptoms did not improve.
W.H. was at home two hours later and called for an ambulance. When paramedics arrived, he told them he had been experiencing chest pain for one hour. While being lowered into the ambulance by the paramedics, W.H. experienced severe cardiac arrhythmia and went into ventricular fibrillation arrest. He became unresponsive, lost blood pressure and stopped breathing. He was transported to Ingalls Memorial Hospital. Additional efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead 3.5 hours after leaving the office of Dr. Blake. Later, his widow found the bottle of Prilosec with one pill missing. It was sitting next to a wrapper from a White Castle outlet.
W.H. was survived by his widow and three adult children. His estate argued that the standard of care required his doctor to refer the patient to the emergency room in order to rule out a cardiac cause of his chest pain. Also, his survivors asserted that H.W. would have survived because he would have been in the cardiac catheterization lab before the fatal arrhythmia, therefore preventing this death.
Dr. Blake’s attorneys asserted that a normal EKG was recorded and that GERD or bronchitis were much more likely causes of discomfort and that a stress test was adequate. His attorneys also stated that since the patient was not having chest pain at the time of the office visit, his later cardiac arrest was likely the result of a sudden plaque rupture unrelated to the indigestion.
The jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded $1.15 million, which includes:
$50,000 for survival of pain and suffering
$800,000 to his family for pain and suffering
$100,000 to his son for loss of society
$100,000 to each of his daughters for loss of society
Plaintiff attorneys were Craig L. Manchik and Lynne Plum Duffey of Craig L. Manchik & Associates. The case was heard before Judge Michael L. Panter.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuits for areas in and around Chicago and Cook County, including Des Plaines, New Lenox, Chicago’s Roscoe Village, and Lake Forest.
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Surviving Family Receives $850,000 Wrongful Death Settlement After Rehab Center Fails to Prevent Elderly Resident’s Fall – Sorce v. Shorehaven Health and Rehab. Ctr.
Jury Holds for Doctor When Patient Dies After Trach Tube Dislodged – Estate of Holliday v. Dr. Panush
Cook County Jury Verdict for Doctor in Death from Undiagnosed Pulmonary Embolism; Estate of K.R., deceased v. Suburban Heights Medical Center, S.C.