$250,000 Verdict: Medical Malpractice / Failure to Diagnose Heart Attack
Wrongful Death of 63-year Old Man Who Died of an Undiagnosed Heart Attack
We represented the surviving adult children of a 63-year old man who died of an undiagnosed heart attack. This gentleman went to the Georgia Baptist Family Practice Center complaining of unexplained shoulder pain and nausea and vomiting. With a history of heavy smoking (3 to 6 packs of cigarettes per day for a period of 40 years), we contended that he should have been worked up for coronary problems. It is undisputed that left shoulder pain of unexplained origin is a classic indicator of heart attack, as are accompanying nausea and vomiting. Without even putting a stethoscope to the patient's chest, Dr. Brown did not order any lab studies and did not perform an EKG and diagnosed rotator cuff tendonitis and prescribed Phenergan for nausea.
Two days later, the patient was found dead on his kitchen floor. The defense contended that he did not have any heart-related symptoms when he left the office. This case is a classic example of why an autopsy must always be performed when there is suspicion of malpractice. The autopsy confirmed that the cause of death was caused by a heart rupture resulting from the heart attack. The jury rendered a verdict against Dr. Brown and the medical practice. Although the autopsy revealed that the patient had undiagnosed lung cancer that would have cut his life short, the jury felt that the premature death by heart attack could have been avoided with proper care.