Jury Holds for Hospital and Doctor in Claim of Misdiagnosis of Cardiac Disease

On Dec. 29, 2008, Camilla Hayes, 76, came to the emergency room at Rush Oak Park Hospital complaining of abdominal pain. The emergency room doctor, Dr. Joseph DiPiazza, did not order a complete cardiac workup. She was later diagnosed and treated for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). However, Hayes was in process of being discharged from the hospital after four and a half hours in the ER when she suddenly collapsed and died. She is survived by two adult children. No autopsy was performed and the parties agreed that she most likely died from a sudden cardiac arrest based on her multiple risk factors for cardiac disease, including hypertension, high cholesterol, morbid obesity and a history of smoking.

The family filed a lawsuit against the doctor and his practice, claiming that Dr. DiPiazza was negligent in choosing not to properly evaluate Hayes’ symptoms from a cardiac standpoint, choosing not to diagnose her cardiac condition, choosing not to order cardiac enzyme tests and serial EKGs, and discharging her instead of admitting her to a telemetry floor for observation.

The family also maintained that the hospital nurses did not determine the exact location of Hayes’s burning discomfort at the time of triage and chose not to initiate the nursing standing orders for unexplained chest pain.

The defendants maintained that Dr. DiPiazza’s decision to forgo cardiac workup was reasonable and complied with the standard of care based on the patient’s history and physical presentation; the patient’s symptoms were far more consistent with a gastrointestinal complaint than a cardiac process. Otherwise, the defendants maintained that the standard of care both for the doctor and the nursing staff was met. It was also argued that Hayes remained in stable condition until the moment she suddenly and without warning went into cardiac arrest.

The jury was deadlocked 10-2 after twelve hours of deliberations over 2 days, and the parties then stipulated to accept a verdict of 10 jurors, which resulted in a verdict in favor of both Dr. DiPiazza and the hospital.

The demand to settle the case before trial was $1,350,000. The jury was asked to return a verdict of $2 million. The parties however did enter into a high/low agreement during jury deliberations with the low being $100,000 and the high being $1 million, which means that the family of Camilla Hayes did receive the $100,000. The family was represented by attorney Montgomery W. Mackey.

Estate of Camilla Hayes v. Dr. Joseph DiPiazza, Rush Oak Park Hospital, No. 10 L 892 (Cook County, Ill.).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence cases, misdiagnosis cases and birth injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Beverly, Canaryville, Chinatown, Edgebrook, Edgewater, Edison Park, Forest Glen, Pill Hill, Oz Park, Roscoe Village, Sauganash, South Loop), Kenilworth, Blue Island, Hinsdale, Glencoe, Lisle, Joliet, Cicero and Des Plaines, Ill.

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