POLING attorney, Frederick A. Sewards, defended a primary care physician in a wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas of Licking County, Ohio. The case went to trial on Monday, November 4, 2019 and concluded on Thursday, November 7, 2019 when the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant primary care physician.
The case involved an adult male patient with chronic muscular pain complaints, but minimal cardiac history which included a history of high blood pressure. The patient suffered severe back pain between his shoulder blades on several days. On the third day, he called for the emergency squad who evaluated him and recommended that he go to the hospital for further evaluation. The patient declined. Later in the day, the patient presented to the defendant primary care physician who performed an examination and, upon palpation of the patient’s back, was able to recreate the pain which indicated to the primary care physician that it was a muscular issue and not a cardiac issue. The patient was given medications and sent home with instructions to call the next morning. The patient then went home and suffered a catastrophic cardiac event and was later found in his home, deceased, by his wife.
Plaintiff presented expert witnesses in primary care medicine and cardiovascular surgery who testified that the patient’s history and presentation required the primary care physician to perform an electrocardiogram or to send the patient immediately to the emergency room for evaluation. Had that occurred, Plaintiff’s retained expert witnesses testified that the catastrophic cardiac event could have been successfully treated and death avoided.
Defense expert witnesses in the field of primary care medicine, cardiovascular medicine and forensic pathology testified that the primary care physician’s evaluation of the patient was reasonable under the circumstances and that the standard of care did not require an electrocardiogram or referral to emergency room and the patient’s condition was reasonably interpreted as muscular in nature. Further, in retrospect, defense expert witnesses testified that the catastrophic cardiac event had already occurred that morning and the patient’s later death was unpreventable and untreatable given the earlier cardiac event.
After a four-day trial, the jury deliberated for approximately 18 minutes before delivering its verdict in favor of the defendant primary care physician.