Jury Awards $1.7 Million For Failure to Refer Patient to Specialist
Last week, a Montana jury awarded a widow and her four children $1.7 million in a lawsuit against the widow's husband's primary care provider and his clinic following the husband's death in 2005. At trial, the Plaintiffs alleged that the husband, age 42, had presented to the internal medicine physician with a complaint of chest pain. The doctor negligently misdiagnosed the pain as a torn muscle, instead of what it was, pain caused by a leaky heart valve. In essence, the physician failed to rule out one of the most potentially devastating causes of the chest pain, choosing instead to believe that the pain was caused by a non-life threatening condition, and failing to refer the man to a specialist for follow up. The man was given pain medication and discharged home. The Plaintiffs, at trial, argued that the doctor had an obligation to refer their husband/father to a heart specialist for further workup as a result of the chest pain. In essence, they argued that the decedent essentially slipped through the cracks at the clinic. After being discharged, the decedent went home. One year later, he died because his valve failed. Had a received a replacement heart valve, plaintiff's experts, cardiologists, testified that he would have survived. Heart valve replacement surgery is used to repair or replace diseased heart valves -- the parts of the hearts that open up enough so that blood can flow through. Then the valves close, keeping blood from flowing backwards into the heart. Surgery to replace these valves is relatively common today and can sometimes be laparoscopically with a valve from another part of your body or a synthetic one.
At STSW, one of the more common cases of medical negligence / medical error / medical mistake we see, is when an internal medicine physician or primary care provider fails to refer a patient with a specific complaint to the appropriate specialist in a timely fashion. This failure can often lead to catastrophic results and even death.
Our lawyers routinely appear in the state and federal courts in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas, as well as other courts throughout Maryland. We typically are involved in litigation against area hospitals including but not limited to: Johns Hopkins Hospital, University of Maryland Medical Center, St. Agnes Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, Union Memorial Hospital, Harbor Hospital, Bon Secours Hospital, Sibley Memorial Hospital, Frederick Memorial Hospital, Upper Chesapeake Hospital, Howard County General Hospital, Sinai Hospital, Anne Arundel Medical Center, Baltimore Washington Medical Center, and Washington Hospital Center. If you or a loved one have been victimized by a health care provider for failure to refer you to a specialist for further follow-up on a particular condition and/or concerning signs and symptoms, call our team at (410) 385-2225 for a free consultation or visit our website to set up your free consultation. Our attorneys generally pursue such medical malpractice cases on a contingency basis, meaning that our office lays out the funds for the case in advance and our clients are only responsible for repaying those expenses upon the successful resolution of a case, whether it be via settlement, trial or appeal.