A 52-year-old man died from a heart attack at work after doctors and a cardiac nurse failed to recognize his heart disease. An autopsy following the man’s death revealed a 90-95 percent blockage in the left anterior descending artery. Fourteen days before he died, during a routine visit to his doctor, the man complained of chest pain that went undiagnosed by the physicians.
The man had smoked for more than 20 years, had high blood pressure and had other risk factors for heart disease.
His doctor ordered a treadmill stress test, which was performed several days later at a medical clinic by a cardiac nurse. Neither the man’s doctor nor the cardiac nurse took a detailed cardiac history before the treadmill test. When the man reported chest pain during the stress test, the test was stopped, but the circumstances surrounding the pain were not recorded. The man was not seen by a physician during the stress test visit; however, a physician reviewed the test data and determined that the man was at low risk for cardiovascular disease. If a detailed cardiac history had been taken before the stress test or if the nurse had recognized the serious nature of the man’s chest pain, it would have been discovered he had heart disease and appropriate treatment given. No settlement offer was made. Daniel M. Hodes of Hodes Milman, LLP took the case to arbitration, and $1,100,000 award was issued.