A jury recently awarded a man’s family $3 million to be paid by his cardiologist, after the man died because of medical malpractice. The jury decided that the cardiologist’s failure to adequately warn the victim not to partake in physical activities amounted to medical malpractice. Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys have years of experience obtaining the highest settlements and jury awards for our clients.
A couple years ago, the 31 year-old victim first visited his cardiologist, later to be the defendant, because of his constant chest pains that radiated into his arms and legs. After performing several routine tests, the cardiologist determined he was at a ‘high risk’ of having clogged arteries and a heart attack. The cardiologist ordered him to partake in a stress test in the following week. At no time did the cardiologist inform the victim that he should refrain from physical activities until the stress test has been performed and the results analyzed.
As a result, the victim participated in several activities in the interim he should have avoided. While engaging in sexual activities with persons other than his wife, he suffered a massive heart attack. Although an ambulance and paramedics arrived to his house promptly, they were unable to save the victim. He was pronounced dead on the spot; the coroner determined the cause of death was a heart attack.
After consulting an attorney, the family filed a civil lawsuit against the cardiologist. The lawsuit alleged wrongful death and medical malpractice. The medical malpractice claim was premised on the cardiologist’s failure to take the victim’s proper medical history and his failure to inform the victim to end all physical activity until the results of the stress test were analyzed.
To be successful in an unintentional tort lawsuit, such as medical malpractice, the plaintiff must satisfy four elements: (a) there must be a duty between the parties, (b) the defendant must breach that duty, and (c) that breach must cause (d) an ascertainable injury that is redressable. When dealing with medical malpractice cases, the first element is always satisfied as all doctors owe a duty to their patients.
A unique element to medical malpractice cases is the type of duty that exists. This duty is founded upon a ‘standard or care’. While many jurisdictions interpret this ‘standard of care’ differently, they all understand that it is premised on the reasonable care and treatment of a physician in a similar situation using with similar medical equipment.
The second element of a medical malpractice lawsuit, the breach of a duty, is in fact the breach of this standard of care. Despite the minor differences between jurisdictions in the definition of the proper standard of care, most jurisdictions would find the cardiologist to have committed medical malpractice in the case at hand.
Failing to properly request and inspect a patient’s medical history is negligence and malpractice. Most medical standard of care requires this to be done, especially when a patient complains of severe symptoms warranting tests on the heart. It is also malpractice to not inform a patient to avoid physical activities when the physician has ordered a stress test to determine the health of the patient’s heart.
As a result, the jury conclusively found in favor of the victim’s family, awarding them $3 million. This damage award is only half of what the plaintiffs sought. This could be explained by the growing concern of granting damage awards that are disproportionate to what is deserved. It is also possible that the victim’s infidelity, engaging in a three-some without his wife, prevented the jury from being too sympathetic.
If you or a family member has suffered an unexpected injury following medical treatment, you should immediately contact a medical malpractice attorney and explore if you were the victim of medical malpractice.