On December 11, 2015, a medical malpractice jury in conservative Ford County, Illinois returned its verdict in the amount of $950,000 in favor of the family of a man who died allegedly as a result of medical negligence committed by his primary care physician. The largest previous medical malpractice verdict or settlement in Ford County was $370,000 in 2007.
The five-men, seven-women medical malpractice jury took just over four hours after a two-week trial to find that the defendant primary care physician and his medical practice breached the standard of care in the treatment of the 73-year-old man.
The Underlying Facts
The man had gone to a down-state Illinois hospital emergency room on two occasions, and to his primary care physician on one occasion, complaining of chest pain during the week before he returned again to the emergency room, continuing to complain of chest pain. The hospital admitted the man from the emergency room on the third visit, but no proper medical tests were conducted and a cardiology consult was not obtained despite the complaints of chest pain, according to the medical malpractice lawsuit.
Three days after he was admitted to the hospital, the man was discharged without the proper diagnosis or treatment. The following day, the man returned to the hospital due to chest pain, and died later that day.
The plaintiffs’ Illinois medical malpractice lawyer stated after the jury returned it’s verdict, “It is a terrible tragedy that this man had to unnecessarily suffer as he did and then die. Following a reasonable standard of care would have saved this man’s life. He had many good years ahead of him still.”
Statistics: Chest Pain Visits To Hospital Emergency Rooms
According to the CDC website (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics), chest and abdominal pain are the most common reasons that persons aged 15 years and over visit the emergency department (ED). The number of non-injury ED visits in which chest pain was the primary reason was 5.0 million in 1999–2000 and 5.5 million in 2007–2008.
Triage level indicates the seriousness of the visit from the perspective of the triage nurse: from 1999–2000 through 2007–2008, the percentage of chest pain visits triaged as immediate or emergent (i.e., should be seen within 14 minutes) decreased by 12.4%; the percentage of chest pain visits that were immediate or emergent was two to three times higher than the percentage of visits for abdominal pain or visits for other symptoms.
A trend toward increased use of advanced medical imaging during non-injury ED visits was observed from 1999–2000 through 2007–2008 for chest pain visits (up 367.6%, from 3.4% to 15.9%); the percentage of ED visits for chest pain that resulted in a diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) decreased 44.9%, from 23.6% in 1999–2000 to 13.0% in 2007–2008.
In each time period studied, patients with chest pain were more likely to die, be admitted to the hospital, or be transferred to another facility compared with visits for abdominal pain or other symptoms; the percentage of visits for chest pain that resulted in admission, transfer, or death declined 17.2% from 1999–2000 through 2007–2008.
If the medical negligence of a hospital or a primary care physician has caused you or a family member to suffer pain, injuries, or death, the legal advice of a medical malpractice attorney in your local area may be helpful in filing a medical malpractice claim for compensation for your harms and losses.
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