$1.15 Million Jury Verdict for Patient with Chest Pain Leading to Fatal Heart Attack; Herring v. Blake

William Herring, 59, had a history of severe coronary artery disease. Complaining of chest pain, Herring was seen by his internist, Wayne Blake, M.D. Herring said his chest pain was relieved by belching.

At the doctor’s office, an electrocardiogram was done, which showed that Herring had normal rhythms. Dr. Blake prescribed a heartburn relief medicine and also recommended that Herring undergo a chemical stress test within the next month.

Less than four hours after leaving Dr. Blake’s office, Herring suffered a severe irregular heartbeat episode and then a fatal cardiac arrest. He is survived by his wife and three children.

The family filed suit against Dr. Blake, claiming that he should have referred Herring to the emergency room in order to rule out a deadly cardiac-related cause. It was contended in the lawsuit that had Herring been at the hospital at the time of the onset of the arrhythmia, that Herring would have been treated and would have survived.

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that in a medical negligence case, the patient is entitled to receive medical care that might increase the chance of survival, even if the chance for recovery is small. This is known as the “Lost Chance Doctrine.” A doctor or hospital can be found responsible for the injury or death of a patient in which a person has been deprived of a chance to survive or recover from a health problem due to the medical provider’s negligence, or where the medical provider’s negligence either lessened the effectiveness of plaintiff’s treatment or increased plaintiff’s risk of an unfavorable outcome.

This law is very important because it means that even the sick should be given the necessary health care in spite of an overlying illness. The court’s conclusion was that disallowing recovery in medical negligence cases on the basis that a patient was already too ill to survive would prevent the offering of quality medical care to critically ill patients. Holton v. Memorial Hospital, 176 Ill.2d 95 (1997). This Illinois law allowed the family to bring this action even though Herring had already suffered from a serious and dangerous medical condition.

The Herring family was represented in the lawsuit by attorneys Craig L. Manchik and Lynne Plum Duffey, both of Chicago.

William Herring v. Wayne Blake, M.D., 09 L 249 (Cook County, Illinois).
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence cases and wrongful death matters for individuals and families for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Rogers Park), Mount Prospect, Villa Park, Yorkfield, Elmhurst, Northlake, Glen Ellyn, Hickory Hills, Oak Lawn, Chicago (Stockyards), River Forest and Bedford Park, Ill.

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