David Detweiler, 73, was suffering from chronic atrial fibrillation, a condition where a patient has an irregular heartbeat or a heartbeat that is faster than an acceptable rate. He also had other cardiac issues. He was a long-time patient of cardiologist Dr. Mitchell Greenspan.
Dr. Greenspan cleared Detweiler to undergo an aortobifemoral bypass to treat his aortoiliac occlusive disease. An aortobifemoral bypass is surgery to redirect blood around narrowed or blocked blood vessels in the abdomen or groin areas. The surgery is performed to increase blood flow to the legs.
A vascular surgeon did the procedure without complications. Detweiler was transferred to the hospital’s ICU in stable condition following the surgery.
The next day, Detweiler’s troponin T was less than 0.01. Troponin T is the shortened version of the proteins that help regulate the heart muscle and its contractions. The following day, an EKG showed atrial fibrillation with significant ST depressions, a change from his preoperative baseline EKGs. ST depression localized to a specific myocardial territory on the ECG is a frequent, yet overlooked, sign of occlusion myocardial infarction. Often misinterpreted as “localized ischemia,” these changes should raise suspicion for subtle reciprocal ST elevation and associated infarction.
Dr. Greenspan saw Detweiler the same morning and ordered an urgent troponin T test, which was elevated at 0.04.
Detweiler began to complain of nausea, dizziness and sweating. A nurse noted that his blood pressure was 91/34 mm HG, and his heart rate was as low as 40 beats per minute.
An EKG taken later was abnormal, which showed a significant worsening of his condition and indicated a possible acute infarct. A repeat EKG allegedly dictated by Dr. Greenspan showed persistent diffuse ST-segment depression. Detweiler’s condition continued to deteriorate. He suffered two episodes of cardiac arrest. After the second cardiac arrest, Detweiler’s family asked to discontinue resuscitation efforts.
Detweiler died. He was survived by his wife and two adult children; one of whom moved in with his mother to help take care of her.
Detweiler’s wife, on behalf of his estate, filed a lawsuit against Dr. Greenspan, his practice and also Dr. Hao Nguyen, the intensivist who provided postoperative care to Detweiler. It was alleged that Dr. Nguyen chose not to diagnose and treat Detweiler’s myocardial infarction and transfer him to another hospital.
The Detweiler estate asserted that the defendants also failed to properly interpret Detweiler’s test results and thus did not understand the significance of his worrisome EKGs.
In addition, the Detweiler estate and family claimed that Dr. Greenspan had also failed to evaluate Mr. Detweiler after the second troponin T test.
Before trial, the parties settled for $900,000. Of that amount, $800,000 was paid by Dr. Nguyen’s insurer, and the rest was paid by Dr. Greenspan’s insurer.
The attorneys successfully handling this tragic case for the Detweiler family were David J. Caputo and Heather K. D’Onofrio.
Detweiler v. Nguyen, No. 2018-02600 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pl. Bucks County).
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling wrongful death lawsuits, cardiology negligence cases, hospital negligence lawsuits, and medical negligence cases for individuals, families and loved ones who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 45 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Naperville, Westmont, Morton Grove, Niles, Prospect Heights, Mount Prospect, New Lenox, Lemont, Long Grove, Wilmette, Chicago (South Shore, Bronzeville, Edgebrook, Irving Park, Washington Park, Lincoln Square, Ukrainian Village, Beverly), Grayslake, Lake Zurich, Orland Park, South Holland and Blue Island, Ill.
Robert D. Kreisman has been an active member of the Illinois and Missouri bars since 1976.
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