Misdiagnosis leads to $2,000,000 settlement
A family claiming that a man died from a misdiagnosed aortic dissection reached a $2,000,000 settlement in their Jackson County lawsuit against his treating physicians and hospital. The parties identities cannot be disclosed due to a confidentiality agreement. The plaintiffs were residents of Higginsville, Missouri, a small mid-Missouri town located about 60 miles West of Columbia, Missouri on I-70. The decedent went to a rural hospital emergency room complaining of jaw pain, chest pain, arm and leg numbness and difficulty speaking. The symptoms spontaneously resolved after about 15 minutes without treatment. Testing in the ER was consistent with coronary artery disease. The ER doctor transferred the decedent to a Kansas City hospital for specialized cardiac care. Upon admission, the decedent was stable and had no complaints other than the unusual 15 minute episode he experienced earlier that day. The information was presented to a resident doctor who examined the decedent and ordered an echocardiogram for the next morning. Although the echo was ordered for a Saturday morning, the hospital’s echo lab was not routinely open on the weekend. The hospital’s nurse testified that since the decedent was to be seen by a cardiologist on Saturday morning anyway, it was unnecessary to change the order. The next morning the cardiologist noted that he detected a slight diastolic heart murmur near the left sterna border of the heart however did not order any additional testing until Monday. At 6 p.m. that night, the decedent died without any further testing. The cardiologist told the wife that he had likely died due to the coronary artery disease and his wife declined an autopsy. After 18 months, Doe’s body was exhumed and a post-mortem examination revealed the cause of death was aortic dissection. The family filed suit and litigation ensued for the next two years. About a month before trial the parties reached the $2,000,000 settlement.