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Wrongful Death - Cardiology - failure to diagnose worsening congestive heart failure - negligent administration of excessive doses of anti-coagulation medication.


This was a death action brought by the estate of the female decedent assembly worker, age 52 at the time of her death while under the care of the defendant cardiologist. The plaintiff contended that the defendant cardiologist negligently failed to detect and timely respond to signs and symptoms indicating a worsening congestive heart failure. The plaintiff further alleged that the defendant placed the decedent on excessive doses of Coumadin anticoagulant, causing an upper GI bleed which led to cardiac arrest and death.

The evidence indicated that the decedent had been previously treated by the defendant physician cardiologist for congestive heart failure and suspected rheumatic fever induced mitral valve disease. A yearly work physical detected an enlarged heart and the defendant cardiologist diagnosed congestive heart failure, enlarged heart and moderate mitral valve disease. The decedent was also diagnosed as suffering from atrial fibrillation. The decedent was started on Coumadin, an anti-coagulant drug to prevent clotting, and was seen by the defendant physician on five occasions, between January 13 and 25, ________. On January 29th, the decedent collapsed and was admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of disseminated intravascular coagulopathy and upper GI bleed induced by the anticoagulant Coumadin. She expired three days after admission to the hospital. The plaintiff’s experts testified that the defendant physician deviated from the standard of care in failing to detect increasing signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure. The plaintiff’s experts further maintained that excessive doses and Coumadin anticoagulant caused an upper GI bleed which led to a subsequent cardiac arrest, superimposed upon increasing heart failure. The decedent should have had immediate cardiac catheterization and surgical consult for treatment of the severe mitral valve disease, according to the plaintiff’s experts.

The decedent was survived by three adult children.

The defendant contended that the dosage of Coumadin was proper and did not cause a bleed in the decedent. The defendant contended that the patient did not suffer from congestive heart failure and, although she did have moderate mortal valve disease, it did not warrant catheterization or surgical consult. The jury found for the defendant. Motion for New Trial waived in exchanged for waiver of costs by defense.

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