Our client was a 50 year old man who presented to the emergency room complaining of chest pain. He stated that the pain had been intermittent over several weeks, but was much worse on that day. He reported that he was having pains while at rest and that the pain was accompanied by profuse sweating. His history revealed that he had multiple risk factors for coronary artery disease (“CAD”) including hypercholesterolemia, a strong family history of CAD, and a history of smoking cigarettes. An echocardiogram was performed, and the results were highly abnormal. The EKG clearly revealed ischemia, and our client had high troponin levels. The doctor that was treating our client failed to recognize his signs and symptoms of an impending heart attack. Instead of admitting our client and treating his condition with the placement of a stent, the doctor released him with no treatment. Our client’s myocardium had not yet been injured, and stent placement would have preserved his cardiac function and prevented permanent injury.
Four days after his discharge, our client presented to a different hospital, again complaining of chest pains. An EKG was performed and revealed an acute myocardial infarction in the exact distribution that had exhibited ischemic changes at the previous hospital. When the two EKGs are compared it is very clear that our client was experiencing ischemia and an impending heart attack at the first hospital. He was taken to the cath lab immediately and coronary angiography and left ventriculography revealed an occluded left anterior descending artery (LAD) and a low ejection fraction of 20%. His LAD was opened and a stent was placed, but the damage had been done. Our client survived his cardiac care unit stay, but he lost a very significant part of his heart muscle and its pumping ability.
The loss of heart function and pumping ability caused our client tremendous pain and suffering. After the surgery, our client only had an ejection fraction of 20%, and that caused him to be continuously weak and tired. His low ejection fraction has limited his ability to actively be social. Before our client’s heart attack, he enjoyed an active social life and doing chores like cutting the lawn and washing his car. He no longer can enjoy these activities; he now has to have a hired caretaker to complete his household duties. Due to his unnecessary heart damage, our client had to have a pacer/defibrillator placed and will have to take prescription heart medications for the rest of his life. Our client is a 50 year old man who now has to live with what is the equivalent of a 90 year old heart.
This claim went before a Medical Review Panel made up of three physicians in the same field of practice as the doctor that treated our client. The Medical Review panel found that the doctor who had treated our client during his initial visit to the emergency room had breached the standard of care. The panel stated that due to our clients abnormal EKG, elevated troponin levels, and high risk factors for cardiac disease the doctor should have, at a minimum, admitted our client for observation. The panel stated that the doctor’s failure to timely diagnose our client’s heart condition resulted in his major heart attack. Through the use of expert testimony, Todd Townsley was able to come to an agreeable settlement for this client with the doctor and the Patient’s Compensation Fund.