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ARTICLE ID 158877

- MEDICAL MALPRACTICE - ALLEGED FAILURE TO PRESCRIBE ASPIRIN FOLLOWING TRANSIENT ISCHEMIC ATTACK - MASSIVE STROKE - PERMANENT BRAIN DAMAGE AT AGE 55 - CONTINUING CARE AND THERAPY REQUIRED.

Philadelphia County, PA

This medical malpractice action went to trial against the defendant attending physician who cared for the plaintiff after he was admitted to the hospital with confusion, elevated blood pressure and numbness in his hands and feet. The plaintiff alleged that he suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA) and that the defendant negligently discharged him without aspirin or other antiplatelet medication to reduce the plaintiff’s risk of a subsequent stroke. The plaintiff suffered a debilitating stroke approximately a month after his discharge. The defendant argued that the plaintiff suffered from a hypertension crisis, not TIA and that aspirin would not have prevented his stroke. The defendant attending physician contended that he appropriately stabilized the plaintiff at the hospital and instructed him to follow-up with his primary care physician for on-going long-term care. The plaintiff’s primary care physician and the hospital where the plaintiff was treated settled the plaintiff’s claims for an undisclosed sum prior to trial.

The plaintiff was a 55-year-old mortgage broker on May 6, ________, when he was admitted through the emergency room to the hospital with complaints of confusion, numbness in his hands and feet and blood pressure of approximately ________/________. The plaintiff was admitted to the hospital under the care of the defendant attending physician. The plaintiff had a history of hypertension, but reported that he had not taken his hypertension medication for several months before the admission. He was also a cigarette smoker, overweight and suffered anxiety.

The plaintiff’s blood pressure was brought under control and he was discharged by the defendant on hypertension medication and instructions to follow-up with his primary care physician. The plaintiff’s medical expert testified that the plaintiff’s signs and symptoms indicated a TIA, which is an early warning sign of stroke and placed the plaintiff at a higher risk for future stroke. The plaintiff’s expert testified that the standard of care required that the defendant prescribe aspirin or another antiplatelet agent to reduce the risk of stroke. The plaintiff showed that a consulting neurologist at the hospital had recommended that the plaintiff be started on aspirin, yet the aspirin was not prescribed by the defendant.

The plaintiff was readmitted to the hospital on June 12, ________ with slurred speech, blurred vision, eyes drifting to one side, numbness in his arms and facial droop. The plaintiff was diagnosed as having suffered a brain stem stroke. The plaintiff alleged that the risk of stroke could have been significantly reduced by the simple prescription of aspirin.

The plaintiff was unable to return to work and was placed on social security disability. His neuropsychiatrist testified that the stroke has left the plaintiff with permanent brain damage and associated cognitive deficits. The plaintiff is unable to live independently and will require ongoing care and treatment which will increase with age, according to his experts. The plaintiff was separated from his wife and lived in the basement of daughter’s house until just before trial, at which time he moved in with a friend. The plaintiff made no claim for lost wages, but sought approximately $________ to $________ in future life care.

The defendant testified that he believed that the plaintiff was suffering from a hypertension crisis and that the most important thing was to get his blood pressure under control. The defense argued that malignant hypertension with markedly high blood pressure can cause symptoms similar to a TIA, the plaintiff was never diagnosed with TIA and there was no evidence that aspirin would have prevented his subsequent stroke.

The defense maintained that the defendant attending physician took a reasonable approach in stabilizing the plaintiff and referring him back to his primary care physician for on-going therapy, including stopping smoking, managing his weight, hypertension and blood pressure. Evidence showed that the plaintiff’s primary care physician had seen the plaintiff and ordered blood work between the plaintiff’s hospital admissions, but the plaintiff had not had the blood work completed.

The jury found that the defendant was negligent, but that his negligence was not a factual cause in causing injury to the plaintiff.

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