EMERGENCY ROOM STAFF FAILS TO DIAGNOSE HEART ATTACK

I just read about a tragedy which, unfortunately, happens all too frequently but could have been avoided.

The case report comes from Texas. Stacy Meaux, 46, was overweight and had a family history of coronary artery disease (CAD). When she experienced radiating chest pain and tightness, she went to a hospital emergency room where she was seen and examined by the emergency room physician. She underwent two electrocardiograms (EKGs) and was diagnosed as having high blood pressure and pulmonary problems. She was given a medication and sent home.

Meaux suffered fatal cardiac arrest the next day. An autopsy revealed severe atherosclerotic disease. She had been a clerk earning about $17,000 annually and is survived by her two minor children.

Meaux’s mother, individually and on behalf of the estate and the two children, sued the emergency room physician and the hospital, alleging failure to timely diagnose and treat an impending heart attack. The basis of the lawsuit was that hospital nurses failed to follow protocol by neglecting to test Meaux’s cardiac enzymes, perform heart monitoring, and timely notify the physician of her chest pain.

The emergency room physician offered to settle the case for payment of the policy limits on her professional liability insurance policy. The hospital went to trial and the jury found the hospital negligent and awarded the family just over $1, 000,000.

My Take: All hospital emergency departments have (or should have) a procedure/protocol in place for testing patients with complaints of chest pain. Unless the cause of chest discomfort is clearly non-cardiac, an evaluation to rule out acute myocardial infarction should automatically be initiated.

Have you or a loved one experienced a similar experience to that of Stacy Meaux in the emergency departments of the following local hospitals?

Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County, Danville Regional Medical Center, Stonewall Jackson Hospital, Carilion New River Valley Hospital, Montgomery Regional Hospital, Wellmont Bristol Regional Hospital, Carilion Giles Memorial Hospital, Alleghany Regional Hospital, Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital, Tazewell Community Hospital, and Lewis-Gale Medical Center.

Dan Frith
Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at dfrith@frithlawfirm.com.