Our Claims and Legal team secured a medical malpractice defense verdict in Kings County Supreme Court on behalf of an internal medicine-cardiology physician in a case involving an allegation of failing to properly manage severe mitral regurgitation in a 58-year old male resulting in death.
The allegation period began when the patient went to his primary internist complaining of palpitations. The internal medicine physician performed an EKG and sent the patient to the hospital with rapid atrial fibrillation (HR 120 beats per minute) and possible acute coronary syndrome. The patient was ruled out for acute myocardial infarct and was admitted to the hospital due to atrial fibrillation. Our insured internal medicine-cardiology physician evaluated the patient and initiated rate control and anticoagulant medications for the patient’s atrial fibrillation. The patient had an echocardiogram which revealed mitral regurgitation. Following discharge, the patient followed up with a different physician that was known to the family. One month later, the patient went into distress while driving, pulled over, and called 911. The patient suffered a cardiac arrest, was resuscitated, went into a persistent coma, and died 6-months later. The family brought suit against our insured and the subsequent treating physicians alleging that they failed to properly manage severe mitral regurgitation resulting in the death of their wife/father.
At trial, the plaintiff’s attorney tried to show that our insured was negligent for failing to perform a percutaneous coronary angiogram or obtain a surgical consultation for repair of the patient’s mitral valve before hospital discharge. The plaintiff’s attorney attempted to also demonstrate that our insured failed to discuss his conditions or the possible treatment options with the patient.
In response, our defense team was able to show that our insured addressed the patient’s conditions in a timely manner, coming in on Sunday morning to see the patient. Our defense attorney showed that our insured properly discussed with the patient his condition and then explained to the patient the procedures he wanted to perform, including a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) and electrical cardioversion. As the trial proceeded, it was shown that the family arranged for the patient to follow with a different physician after discharge. As per the plaintiff’s testimony – this was done because the family became upset when our insured was reluctant to discuss the patient’s conditions without first obtaining the patient’s consent. The defense team was able to demonstrate to the jury that following this event, the patient refused every procedure except for a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE). Finally, the defense showed that, while the TTE demonstrated mitral regurgitation, it was within the standard of care to discharge the patient in stable condition and allow the patient to have the surgical consultation as an outpatient. Because the patient opted to follow with a different physician post-discharge, our insured could not be faulted for failing to plan the surgical consultation as an outpatient.
After considering both sides of the evidence, the jury returned a verdict in favor of our defendant.