Johnson & Bell, Ltd. attorney, Sharon L. Stanzione, received a not guilty verdict in favor of their client, an emergency room physician in an alleged medical negligence case. The plaintiff, the wife of the deceased, demanded upwards of $750,000 during the trial.
The case involved a patient, a 77-year-old male with a history of coronary artery disease, who was presented to the ER of Methodist Hospital in the middle of the night on May 18, 2002, complaining of having had left sided pain and vomiting. The defendant diagnosed his symptoms as Enteritis and discharged his patient with instructions to follow-up with his family doctor/cardiologist in 2-3 days and to return to the ER if his symptoms worsened or if new symptoms developed. On the evening of May 20, 2002, the patient began vomiting again and developed chest pain and shortness of breath. He waited seven hours before returning to the ER with these new symptoms at which time he was diagnosed with a Myocardial Infarction, suffered cardiogenic shock, and died.
The plaintiff alleged at trial that the ER doctor negligently failed to conduct a cardiac evaluation, including serial cardiac enzymes, serial EKG’s, and failed to admit the patient to the hospital for further testing.
The defense argued that its client acted as a reasonable Emergency Medicine physician in diagnosing and treating the patient for Enteritis. Moreover, the defense argued that its client’s conduct was not a proximate cause of the patient’s death. The defense further argued that the patient was contributorily negligent by failing to promptly return to the ER as instructed when he developed chest pain and shortness of breath, but instead waited seven hours from the onset of those new symptoms to return to the ER. After deliberating for approximately 30 minutes, the jury returned a verdict for the defendant.