According to the complaint, the decedent presented to the hospital complaining of upper right quadrant pain that radiated to his back. The ER physician examined the patient and ordered a CT scan that revealed a likely splenic infarction – an interruption of the oxygen supply to the spleen that leads to tissue death and admitted the patient to the hospital. The attending internal medicine physician did nothing done to determine the cause of the splenic infarct. It turned out that the patient had endocarditis, an infection in the heart, that was causing the heart to throw off clots which settled in the spleen causing the infarction. The endocarditis remained untreated, causing the patient’s untimely death.
The decedent’s estate alleges that the doctor violated the standard of care by failing to determine the cause of the splenic infarction which would have led to diagnosing and treating the endocarditis. The patient should have been placed on heart monitoring when he was admitted to the hospital, an echocardiogram should have been ordered, blood cultures should have been obtained, and the decedent should have been hospitalized until proper diagnoses were made. The plaintiff claims that had the doctor taken these measures, the endocarditis would have been promptly and successfully treated with intravenous antibiotics and the decedent would have survived.