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ARTICLE ID 161204

$________ - INTERNAL MEDICINE NEGLIGENCE - PREMATURE RELEASE OF PATIENT COMPLAINING OF CHEST PAIN - ACUTE MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION RESULTS IN DEATH OF 54-YEAR-OLD LATER IN THE DAY FOLLOWING RELEASE.

Middlesex County, MA

The 54-year-old male decedent presented to the hospital via ambulance after presenting to a walk-in clinic complaining of shortness of breath. The decedent complained of a two day history of shortness of breath, coughing and fever. The patient was seen by the defendant internist who made an initial diagnosis of pneumonia and COPD. An EKG showed no acute change, but he noted a slight increase in CPK. The defendant surmised that the decedent may have experienced slight ischemia due to the respiratory distress he was experiencing. He was admitted with orders for repeat cardiac enzymes.

The following morning, the defendant concluded that despite worrisome cardiac enzyme readings, his EKG was unchanged and his symptoms appeared to have disappeared. The defendant discharged the patient home. Later that day, the patient’s wife called the hospital to report that the patient was having difficulty breathing while in the shower. He was asking for oxygen and was advised that it was not necessary and the showering probably overexerted him. He was advised to rest for 20 minutes and if he did not begin to feel better, he should immediately return to the hospital. His breathing improved and he did not seek further attention.

Later that evening, the patient was found by his wife unresponsive after suffering a fatal heart attack. He died three days later. The plaintiff brought suit, alleging that the defendant was negligent in failing to heed the increased cardiac enzyme readings which were indicative of an ongoing cardiac event. The plaintiff further alleged that the defendant was negligent in discharging the patient despite these findings and in failing to retain him in the hospital for further evaluation and treatment.

The defendant denied the allegations. He maintained that the decedent left the hospital against medical advice and disputed the allegations of negligence.

The parties agreed to resolve the plaintiff’s claims for a confidential settlement of $________ prior to trial.

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