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How a Misread Emergency Room EKG Cost a Hospital $6 Million Dollars

The emergency room doctor violated the basic standards of good medical care.

He should have known how to properly read and interpret an EKG (electrocardiogram). He was after all, a trained emergency room physician. He had gone to medical school. He had done his emergency room training in an approved NY residency program in Emergency Room medicine. He was now working as a staff doctor in the emergency room of a local hospital here in New York that was was affiliated with a large university in New York City. He was board certified in Emergency Room medicine. He'd been working as an ER doctor for years.

The patient had come in complaining of chest pain.

Crushing chest pain.

For a few days duration.

He was pretty young. Never had a problem like this before.

The ER doctor did the correct work-up...bloods were drawn, he was properly examined in the ER.

A cardiac MRI was ordered. An EKG was ordered. An echocardiogram was ordered.

These were all appropriate for a man with these complaints.

So, what happened?

What happened is that the emergency room doctor who read and interpreted the patient's EKG, misread it. He read it as 'normal'. Importantly, the computer read the same EKG as 'abnormal'. The doctor ignored that finding.

He told the patient to simply follow up with a cardiologist and he'd be fine.

Except for one problem...

He gave the patient a false sense of security. When he told him he'd be fine, that wasn't true...

But the emergency room doctor didn't know that. Why not? Because he violated the standard of care when reading and interpreting that ER EKG.

3 MONTHS LATER...

The patient wakes up in the middle of the night. Massive, crushing chest pain. Ambulance called. Taken to same hospital as before. Same emergency room.

EKG shows the patient is having a massive heart attack. Further tests reveal this heart attack killed off 70% of his heart. His days are numbered.

TWO YEARS LATER I HAD OPPORTUNITY TO QUESTION EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTOR

During the doctor's pre-trial testimony, I asked him about his interpretation of the EKG. He still felt there was nothing wrong or abnormal about it.

I showed that EKG to three separate cardiologists. ALL OF THEM SAID IT'S ABNORMAL AND REQUIRES A FURTHER WORK-UP including an angiogram to see if there's any coronary artery that's blocked. If that had been done, they'd have realized he had a 100% blockage in one of his cornorary arteries and he would have had a cardiac bypass.

Had he had bypass surgery before suffering his massive heart attack, he never would have had the heart attack.

The doctor agreed that if the EKG was misread, that would be a departure and a violation from good and accepted medical care. Ironically, even at the ER doctor's deposition, he still didn't recognize that there was a problem with the EKG.

RESULT?

Since the hospital employed the emergency room doctor, they recognized they were culpable and ultimately took responsibility for the violation of the standard of good medical care. They compensated my client $6 Million dollars for the substantial harms and losses he suffered.

To learn more about this case, I invite you to watch the video below...