In June, 2012, a Massachusetts medical malpractice jury awarded $3.74 million to the family of a 59-year-old man who died from a heart attack in June, 2006. An autopsy determined that the man had coronary heart disease and prior heart damage . Four months earlier, he had been transported by paramedics to a local Cambridge, Massachusetts hospital after complaining of chest pain. The hospital conducted medical tests that determined that the man was not actively having a heart attack at that time but did not rule out that the man had other coronary problems.
The man went to his primary care physician after he was discharged from the hospital. The primary care physician did not refer him to a cardiologist for specialized diagnosis and treatment, if necessary, but did advise the man to stop taking aspirin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recommends with regard to aspirin use: Aspirin can be taken to prevent heart disease and stroke in some individuals who have not previously experienced these events. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that men with no history of heart disease or stroke aged 45-79 years use aspirin to prevent myocardial infarctions and that women with no history of heart disease or stroke aged 55-79 use aspirin to prevent stroke when the benefit of aspirin use outweighs the potential harm of gastrointestinal hemorrhage or other serious bleeding. As with all medications, individuals should first speak with their health care provider to discuss using aspirin. Source
The surviving wife and two adult children of the man filed the medical malpractice claim against the man’s primary care physician and another physician in the same medical practice, claiming medical negligence that led to the man’s death. The medical malpractice jury trial lasted more than a week before the jury rendered its verdict against the primary care physician (the medical malpractice jury found the other physician to have not committed medical malpractice in the care and treatment of the man).
Primary care physicians often act as the gatekeepers to specialized medical care. When patients are seen in hospital emergency departments, they are routinely advised to promptly follow up with their primary care physicians. One reason for the advice is because emergency departments are intended to diagnose and treat acute medical conditions that require immediate attention and care. For chronic or longer-term medical conditions that do not require inpatient hospitalization, including follow up care and treatment for conditions treated in emergency departments, the proper source of such care is the patient’s primary care physician or other health care provider who may have better knowledge and understanding of the patient’s medical history and needs. Patients rely on their primary care physicians to keep them out of harm’s way and to arrange for timely and appropriate specialized medical care, when appropriate.
If your primary care physician may have been negligent in your care and treatment, you should promptly seek the advice of a local medical malpractice attorney who may be able to investigate your primary care physician malpractice claim for you and file a primary care medical malpractice claim on your behalf, if appropriate.
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