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Jury: Negligence by cardiologist ‘substantial’ in woman’s death

When people go to their doctors, they trust the physician to give them good care and to do what’s best for them. Far too often, however, that trust is violated by a doctor, and the patient suffers and sometimes pays the ultimate price.

That appears to be the case with a cardiologist far from us in Cleveland. The San Francisco doctor was treating a 59-year-old woman who had a month earlier undergone heart surgery. A jury recently concluded at the end of a medical malpracticetrial that the doctor’s negligence was a “substantial factor” in the woman’s death three years ago.

Jurors voted 11 to 1 to award the woman’s daughter $138,000 for medical costs and funeral expenses. In addition, they awarded her $1 million for emotional distress. However, that latter amount will be reduced by three-quarters because of California’s cap on damages in medical malpractice cases. So instead, the daughter will receive $250,000 for emotional suffering.

The woman had been a bagel shop owner who underwent surgery in July of 2009. The cardiologist then put her on daily doses of Coumadin to prevent blood clotting.

He tested her blood three days after her hospital released her, found the blood to be in the normal range and planned another blood test in three weeks or a month later.

However, a little more than a week after the initial test, the woman returned to his office for treatment of a rash. She complained of being lethargic and having no appetite. The cardiologist conducted no further tests.

Two weeks later, her family found her bleeding and unconscious. She died the next day.

Further testing by the cardiologist would have uncovered the internal bleeding that turned out to be fatal, it was argued in court.

Our firm handles similar cases in which doctors fail to properly diagnose serious medical issues. For more information, visit our Cleveland medical malpractice page.

Source:  San Francisco Chronicle, “Malpractice verdict for SF cardiologist,” Sept. 14, 2012