IADC member Charles Cole and Margaret Fitzsimmons of Schuyler Roche & Crisham, P.C. in Chicago, Illinois successfully defended an emergency medicine physician in a two week jury trial in Joliet, Illinois.
A 47-year-old wheelchair-bound female with multiple sclerosis was sent to the emergency department by her private medical doctor for dehydration along with vague complaints of chest pain, nausea, and vomiting. The patient had been diagnosed and successfully treated for a pulmonary embolism seven months earlier. The defendant emergency medicine physician considered pulmonary embolism in his differential diagnosis but concluded that the patient presented with a low suspicion of that diagnosis. He conducted a standard work-up including a chest x-ray, blood work, and an EKG. The patient was admitted to the hospital for monitoring and further evaluation by a pulmonologist.
The patient suffered a massive cardiac arrest a little more than 24 hours after admission and died. She was survived by a husband and three adult children and several grandchildren. There was no autopsy and the cause and manner of death were hotly contested. The plaintiff contended that the cause of death was an undiagnosed and untreated pulmonary embolus that was missed by the defendant physician. The defense contended that pulmonary embolism was very unlikely based upon the patient’s presentation and that the standard of care did not require a work-up or treatment for a pulmonary embolism.
The jury deliberated over the course of two days before reaching a defense verdict.