Bryan O’Neal Roach, 23, went to a hospital emergency room complaining of chest pain. The physician assistant, Amber Harring, examined him. Diagnostic tests were ordered including an EKG, chest X-ray and bloodwork. Harring later discharged Roach after diagnosing atypical chest pain and febrile illness.
Unfortunately, later that morning, Roach died of an aortic dissection. He was survived by his parents.
The Roach family sued Harring, her employer, and her supervising physician, alleging they chose not to order a CT scan in light of Roach’s grossly abnormal chest X-ray, which showed a wide mediastinum. A mediastinum is an abnormal membranous partition between two body cavities or two parts of an organ, especially between the lungs. A widened mediastinum is indicative of an aortic aneurysm or an aortic dissection and other life-threatening conditions. This condition should have been diagnosed and treated as a medical emergency.