The Eisen Law Firm - Attorneys Focusing Exclusively On Medical Malpractice
3601 Green Rd, Suite 308
Cleveland OH 44122
Call For A Free Consultation

Failure to Diagnose Rare Cardiac Condition Results in Wrongful Death

The Cleveland Medical Negligence Case Facts

Steve K was a third-year law student at Case Western Reserve School of Law at the time of his death. The day he died was his first day at a new part-time job in the legal department of a Cleveland Hospital. As part of his employment, Steve was required to submit to an employee physical, which included a blood draw. That blood draw took place in the early afternoon of Steve’s first day on the job. Afterwards, Steve K felt faint and almost passed out. Sometime later that afternoon, Steve began to experience some chest discomfort and numbness and tingling in his arms.

At about 4:00 p.m., Steve was found by co-workers on the floor behind his desk, sweating profusely. He was escorted to the emergency department of the hospital at which he worked, where he was triaged and then examined by a doctor. The doctor discharged Steve without performing any cardiac tests. The doctor’s diagnosis was “vasovagal response,” or a simple fainting spell.

Steve K went home and died approximately five hours later of a fatal cardiac arrythmia caused by a spasm of his coronary arteries.

The Ohio Medical Malpractice Case - Plot Thickens During the Discovery Process

The day after Steve’s death, the doctor returned to the hospital and dictated an Addendum Note to Steve’s medical chart. In that note, the doctor claimed to have offered Steve an EKG the previous day. According to the doctor, Steve declined to have this non-invasive and inexpensive test performed.

Steve’s wife hired The Eisen Law Firm to represent her, their young son, and Steve’s mother in a lawsuit. The Eisen Law Firm filed a medical malpractice claim against the doctor, his practice group, and the hospital. The lawsuit alleged that the doctor was negligent in failing to diagnose Steve’s life-threatening cardiac condition.

During the course of discovery, it became clear that the hospital’s liability for Steve’s death was limited to its responsibility as the doctor’s employer. The Eisen Law Firm’s medical experts were not critical directly of the care rendered by nurses or other health care professionals at the hospital.

Initial discovery centered around the doctor’s claim – made after Steve’s death – that he had offered Steve an EKG. The hospital offered three witnesses who corroborated to some extent the doctor’s claim. Specifically, the witnesses testified that they visited Steve in the emergency department, and that he advised them that he had been offered an EKG, but that he felt better and wanted to go home.

The Eisen Law Firm retained three expert witnesses, a cardiologist, a cardiac pathologist, and an emergency room physician, each board certified in his area of expertise. The defendant doctor secured the services of two board-certified emergency room physicians. The primary dispute among the experts revolved around whether an EKG performed in the emergency department would have been abnormal.

After all expert witness depositions had been completed, the parties mediated their dispute. That mediation did not result in a settlement agreement, and the parties proceeded to complete their trial preparations.

Our Ohio Medical Error Case: Settlement

In preparing for trial, The Eisen Law Firm conducted two mock trials, which helped considerably in identifying the strengths and weakness of the case and in developing a strong and compelling trial theme. It also gave us a sense of whether the jury was likely to believe the hospital’s witnesses. We also prepared our demonstrative exhibits (including various medical illustrations), our voir dire (questions to ask potential jurors), witness direct and cross examinations, and our opening statement. We were set to go.

Unfortunately, on the morning of the scheduled trial, the parties were informed that the judge was not available to hear the case. When that happens, the case is usually “spun” to an appointed “visiting” judge. As luck (bad) would have it, there were no visiting judges available, either. The trial could not go forward.

Since everyone was already at the courthouse, the parties renewed their settlement discussions in person. Within a day or so, a seven-figure settlement was reached. Steve’s family was very pleased with the settlement, as it provided the family a substantial level of financial security, while avoiding the uncertainty of a trial result.

Ironically, this is only one of several cases where The Eisen Law Firm has represented the family of someone who worked at a hospital at the time that person became the victim of medical negligence. We have represented nurses, therapists, and even physicians in medical negligence cases. The fact is that the number of medical errors resulting in catastrophic harm or death is staggering, and no one – not even a hospital employee – is immune from becoming a victim of medical negligence.