Case Examples

Wrongful Death – Liability For Physician Assistant & Supervising Physician Negligence – Hill v. University of Michigan Hospitals & Health Centers
Sommers Schwartz attorney Kenneth Watkins filed a medical malpractice action on behalf of the estate of a 28-year-old man who died several hours after being wrongly diagnosed with ...
  • $1.35 Million Wrongful Death Settlement for Medical Providers’ Failure to Diagnose Heart Attack

Sommers Schwartz attorney Matthew Curtis negotiated a $1,350,000 settlement for the estate of a man who died from an acute myocardial infarction. The lawsuit claimed the defendant medical team failed to timely diagnose and treat the decedent’s risk for a heart attack.

According to the medical records, the decedent began experiencing chest tightness and shortness of breath. When the symptoms did not subside after three days, he contacted his physician, concerned he might be experiencing a heart attack consistent with a family history of heart disease and other conditions that put him at risk, including hypertension and high blood pressure, type II diabetes, obesity and smoking.

During a tele-visit with a physician assistant, the decedent complained of tightness in his chest, shortness of breath, and fatigue. The PA recommended COVID testing, a cardiac etiology, and a stress test pending the COVID test results. The PA instructed the decedent and his wife to remain home under strict quarantine. Despite the serious nature of his symptoms, family history, and other conditions that put the decedent at risk of a heart attack, the PA did not admit or send him to the hospital or tell him to go directly to the emergency room.

Two days later, the decedent had another telemedicine appointment with the PA. Although his chest pain had improved, he still complained of shortness of breath and fatigue. The PA documented that she thoroughly assessed the chest and lungs, ordered chest x-rays and an exercise stress test, and scheduled a follow-up for the following week. Again, despite the decedent’s history and complaints, she did not admit him to the hospital or send him to the ER for an immediate cardiovascular work-up.

The decedent’s wife went to the couple’s vacation home but became concerned after calling her husband repeatedly without an answer. She returned to find him unresponsive on the shower floor. EMS and the medical examiner arrived and pronounced him dead. After an autopsy, the cause of death was listed as acute myocardial infarction and plaque rupture with coronary artery thrombosis in the previous seven to ten days.

The wrongful death lawsuit claimed the PA was professionally negligent in failing to recognize the need for immediate cardiac assessment and treatment based on the decedent’s symptoms and family history. The complaint also alleged the defendant physician breached the standard of care by failing to properly supervise the PA.

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