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Jury clears two Emergency Medicine doctors in death of 41 year old mother resulting from aortic dissection

Decedent entered the ED complaining of sudden onset chest tightness and painful, throbbing throat, along with mild redness involving the face and upper chest. But for the redness, physical exam, including an EKG, was normal, though a cardiac exam was not specifically recorded. The patient was diagnosed with a possible allergic reaction, treated with antihistamines, Prednisone and nebulizer, kept for observation for 4 hours, and then released with instructions that she see her PMD the next day. Written discharge information included instructions regarding "your non-specific chest pain". Plaintiff (decedent's husband) alleged that defendants failed to investigate a cardiovascular cause for his wife's complaints; a chest ray and/or CT scan should have been done; and the diagnosis of allergic reaction was wrong. Defendants defended the diagnosis and treatment, to which the patient had responded; denied that decedent had complained of actual chest pain, as opposed to tightness, and argued that the presentation was not suggestive of a dissection. The patient saw her PMD the following day; his notes documented that the patient had experienced sudden squeezing sensation in the chest, with "pain radiating to her throat". Decedent died 5 days after her ED visit, with autopsy revealing the cause of death to be a dissection involving the ascending thoracic aorta. Plaintiff sought over 9 Million dollars in damages for both economic and non-economic loss. The jury returned its unanimous verdict after deliberating for 4 hours.

Categories: Defense Verdict
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