$860,000 Settlement for Emergency Room and Internist Malpractice / Aortic Dissection

The firm settled this case for $860,000 against an emergency room physician and an internist for failing to recognize that the plaintiff, a 39-year-old man, was suffering from an aortic dissection at least five days prior to his death. The plaintiff presented to the emergency room with sudden onset of increased heart rate, dizziness, hand tingling, and pain between his shoulder blades. However, the emergency room doctor failed to order the proper tests and consultations, and did not admit the plaintiff for monitoring, instead discharging him with a diagnosis of dehydration and gastritis.

The plaintiff presented to his internist’s office the next day, as well as two days later with complaints of chest pain and elevated heart rate. His internist diagnosed him with pleuritis and prescribed medication. He expired 2 days later at home and an autopsy revealed a dissecting aortic aneurysm. It was the opinion of plaintiff’s expert that if the proper diagnosis had been made, surgery to repair the dissection could have been performed, with a 90% probability of success.

There were other issues regarding damages and some testimony from his in-laws that plaintiff should have gone back to the ER after he saw his internist and they contributed to decreasing the likely damages if the case were tried and thus also decreased the settlement value of the case. The plaintiff was survived by his wife and son.