The Boston Business Journal reported last week on the end of a medical malpractice trial that resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff. The suit was filed by the family of a 59-year old man. The man died of a heart attack in 2006, and the family claims that it could have been prevented had he received appropriate care when visiting a doctor after previously reporting earlier chest pains.
The patient was rushed to the hospital in 2006 complaining of chest pain. An EMT ambulance was called. While at the hospital, medical professionals told the man that he had not suffered a heart attack, but they suspected that the man still might have some coronary problems. The man was released from the hospital shortly after. Later the man’s primary care physician told the man to stop taking aspirin. Yet, aspirin is often an important blood thinning medication for at-risk heart patients. In addition, the primary care doctor never advised the man to see a cardiologist or take other actions necessary to ensure his suspected heart problem was properly treated.
A few months later the man as dead from a heart attack. An autopsy revealed that the man had coronary heart disease and previous heart damage.
The family eventually met with a medical malpractice lawyer and filed suit against the primary care physician. The suit claimed that the doctor was negligent in his treatment, failing to properly advise the man considering his heart risks. A settlement could not be reached, and the case went to trial. After hearing all of the evidence the jury reached a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor, finding the doctor negligent. The award was for $3.74 million, but that amount is expected to rise to $5.8 million when interest is taken into account.
Failure to Take Risks Into Account
Each Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm understands the significance of these types of errors. Study after study continues to show that communication problems are at the heart of many preventable medical errors. The growing complexity of medicine means that patients see many different doctors for various specialities. That is in addition to the traditional role of primary care physicians and hospital doctors.
It is absolutely critical that different doctors take the information learned from each into account when making medical decisions. Our Illinois malpractice lawyers know that in this case, it is clear that a primary care physician should have understood the risks faced by the patient as a result of the earlier medical emergency. Reasonable care would have counseled against removing important medication and advising the patient to see necessary specialists.
It is important for local residents to seek out legal counsel if they suspect that they (or a loved one) may have suffered injury as a result of this type of mistake. In addition, this case is an important reminder of the value in asking questions of your doctors and being thorough to ensure oversights are not made–such as advising against taking aspirin–which may cause serious harm down the road.
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