Failure to timely diagnose heart attack

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Verdicts & Settlements: Medicine

December 18, 2012

Failure to timely diagnose heart attack 

Debra Sohl, 47, went to A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital, complaining of radiating chest pain and nausea. An emergency room doctor prescribed Dilaudid and morphine and ordered an electrocardiogram. The doctor drew Sohl’s blood and ordered serial blood draws every eight hours. A second blood test performed ten hours later revealed an abnormal level of the protein troponin. An internist requested that a cardiologist evaluate Sohl the next morning.

Sohl’s family contacted an outside cardiologist, who examined Sohl and arranged for her transfer to another hospital. There, Sohl was diagnosed as suffering from a continuing heart attack. As a result of the untreated, prolonged heart attack, Sohl suffered significant heart damage that affects her energy and concentration levels. She required extensive treatment, including open-heart surgery, and may require a future heart transplant. An office manager earning $31,000 annually, Sohl is unable to work.

Sohl sued the hospital, alleging failure to timely diagnose her heart attack. The plaintiff argued that she should have been timely referred to a cardiologist and evaluated for a cardiac catheterization, and that the hospital should have monitored her more closely.

The jury awarded $126 million.

Citation: Sohl v. A.O. Fox Meml. Hosp., No. 20110029 (N.Y., Otsego Co. Sup. Oct. 1, 2012).

Plaintiff counsel: James D. Linnan and Charlene S. Fallon, both of Albany, N.Y.

Plaintiff experts: James Lambrinos, economics, Clifton Park, N.Y.; and Malissa Wood, cardiology, Boston.

Defense experts: Peter Sosnow, emergency medicine, Albany; and Roland Phillips, cardiology, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

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