April 25, 2017, PNLR E-Newsletter

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Misread CT scan

photo of xray

The plaintiffs alleged that a radiology contractor and a hospital were liable for a radiologist’s failure to timely diagnose a patient’s intracranial bleeding. Had the radiologist identified a small area of bleeding on the patient’s CT scan, suit alleged, she could have received lifesaving treatment. The jury awarded $425,000. Jorgenson v. Indiana Reg’l Med. Ctr..
 

Gretchen Altemus, 68, struck her head in a fall. She went to the Indiana Regional Medical Center emergency room, where she underwent a CT scan. Radiologist Walter Uyesugi, working for Aris Teleradiology, interpreted the test as normal.

Altemus was admitted to the hospital. About three hours later, she became unresponsive. A second CT scan showed intracranial bleeding. Although she was transferred to another facility, Altemus died the next day of brain damage resulting from intracranial bleeding. She is survived by her two adult children.

Altemus’s daughter, on behalf of her estate, sued Aris Teleradiology and the hospital, alleging failure to timely diagnose the intracranial bleeding. Had Uyesugi identified the small area of bleeding in Altemus’s brain, the plaintiff alleged, she could have received lifesaving treatment. Additionally, the plaintiff charged that the hospital failed to send CT scan images from a test Altemus previously underwent as part of a stroke work-up, which would have provided Uyesugi with a comparison study.

The jury awarded $425,000, finding Aris 85 percent responsible and the hospital 15 percent liable.

Citation: Jorgenson v. Indiana Reg’l Med. Ctr., No. 11809CD2010 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pleas Indiana Cnty. Dec. 13, 2016).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ members Paul A. Lagnese and David M. Paul, both of Pittsburgh.

Plaintiff experts: Jay Jarrell, economics, Pittsburgh; Edward Druy, radiology, Owings Mills, Md.; and Matthew Ammerman, surgery, Washington, D.C.

Defense experts: Jeff Creasy, neuroradiology, Nashville; Mark Colella, radiology, Pittsburgh; and Patrick McCormick, neurosurgery, Toledo, Ohio.