Missouri Family Settles Wrongful Death Case

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The A.W. Smith Law Firm secured a $280,000 settlement in a Missouri medical malpractice case in which a doctor misdiagnosed a patient’s heart attack as heartburn.

On February 2, 2002, at 11:45 pm a 55-year-old patient went to a rural hospital complaining of mid-upper epigastric pain with a history of hiatal hernia. After waiting for 20 minutes, the patient went back to the nurses’ station and told the triage nurse that she was now experiencing chest pain radiating into both of her arms. The hospital put their chest pain protocol into action, and the patient was taken for an emergency assessment.

The hospital’s protocol included two diagnostic examinations, both key in diagnosing a heart attack: an EKG and a blood test for the cardiac enzyme Troponin I. The EKG demonstrated a past heart attack, which plaintiff’s experts described as “age indeterminate.” The troponin I test showed elevated levels of enzymes in the blood stream. Plaintiff’s experts testified any elevation of enzymes required serial Troponin tests prior to discharge from the hospital.

After reviewing the test results, the doctor examined the patient and ordered a GI cocktail – a mixture of antiacid and lidocaine used to relieve heartburn, which the doctor claimed was to determine if the pain was coming from chest problems or heartburn. The patient reported that the pain in her chest was gone, and the doctor discharged her with a prescription for Prevacid – a medication commonly used to treat heartburn.

Five days later, the patient was found dead. The plaintiff’s Missouri injury attorney, Aaron W. Smith, alleged the doctor missed the correct diagnosis of a heart attack. Plaintiff’s experts opined that due to the initial test results, and the patient’s health history, she should have been admitted into the hospital for further cardiac assessment. Furthermore, they believed the decedent likely died of another heart attack, five days after her original doctor’s visit. The medical malpractice attorney also argued that the doctor missed the correct diagnosis of heart attack, and that the ER nurse was at fault for allowing the patient to be discharged, given her EKG and Troponin I results.

The case was settled for $280,000 about a week before trial.

The A.W. Smith Law Firm in Columbia handles wrongful death and medical malpractice cases all over the State of Missouri. If you have questions about how to choose a law firm that is equipped to handle your wrongful death or medical malpractice case, please contact us today at 573-443-7300 or visit are website at www.awsmithlaw.com. The A.W. Smith Law Firm has recovered millions in settlments and verdicts in serious injury and wrongful death cases.