Successful Defense for ER Physicians
Brian Burge and Grace Miller successfully defended a recent wrongful death jury trial against two local ER physicians in Johnson County, Kansas. The defendants were alleged to have negligently evaluated a 72-year-old patient with complaints of episodic chest pain severe enough to awaken him at night. The patient, however, reported no complaints of pain with daily activities and no exertional symptoms such as shortness of breath, fainting or nausea/vomiting. All laboratory work – including three tests performed over a 12-hour period designed to detect evidence of heart tissue damage – were negative. The patient’s presentation was felt to be atypical for cardiac cause but he was advised to see his treating cardiologist within one week for further testing. Unfortunately, the patient passed away two days later from a sudden cardiac arrest. Plaintiff (the decedent’s widow) argued at trial that the defendants should have sought admission of her husband for immediate cardiac work-up at the time of his ER visit, which would have prevented his death. Plaintiff and decedent had been married 52 years and had two adult children. Plaintiff requested $1.3 million in damages. After five hours of deliberations, the jury found in favor of the defendant-physicians and awarded no damages.