Failure to diagnose pulmonary embolism

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Case in Point

September 20, 2011

Failure to diagnose pulmonary embolism 

The family of the deceased patient alleged that a family practitioner and an HMO were liable for failing to timely diagnose and treat the woman’s pulmonary embolism. Suit claimed that the physician should have provided a differential diagnosis. The jury awarded about $1.2 million. Ajdari v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan Inc.

Sabrina Ajdari, 52, went to a Kaiser HMO, complaining of shortness of breath. Family practitioner Harpal Kainth noted tachycardia and ordered an EKG, which showed an abnormality. Ajdari underwent a chest X-ray and blood tests to rule out anemia before going home. Kainth later called her and reported that the blood tests were normal.

Two days later, Adjari went to an urgent care center, where she was diagnosed as having a pulmonary embolism. She was transferred to a Kaiser hospital but coded that evening. Adjari died the following day. She had been a nurse earning about $160,000 annually and is survived by her husband and two adult children.

Adjari’s family sued Kainth and the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, alleging failure to timely diagnose and treat the pulmonary embolism. Suit claimed that Kainth should have provided a differential diagnosis in light of Adjari’s symptoms and risk factors—including her obesity and use of medications.

The jury awarded about $1.2 million.

Citation: Ajdari v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan Inc., No. PC047195 (Cal., Los Angeles Co. Super. June 22, 2011).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Todd J. Bloomfield, Woodland Hills, California.

Plaintiff experts: James Leo, internal medicine, Long Beach, California; and Darryl Zengler, economics, Pasadena, California.


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