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Fatal Heart Attack Caused by Failure to Act on Abnormal Test Results

Olsman Mueller Wallace & MacKenzie recently brought a lawsuit on behalf of a 72 year old woman who died of a preventable heart attack.  Our client was a patient of Oakwood Southshore Medical Center.  She suffered a heart attack and died as a result of a failure to act on critical abnormalities seen on her echocardiogram (ECHO) just days before. An echocardiogram, also known as a cardiac ultrasound, displays 2D or 3D images of the heart and is a tool doctors use to assess its fitness and function.

Our client was admitted to Oakwood complaining of chest pain, which was determined to be a heart attack. She underwent angioplasty and then admitted to the ICU for follow up care.The doctor ordered a 2D ECHO, taken on January 9th at 3pm.  That test revealed a pericardial effusion, or “fluid around the heart,” which is a dangerous abnormality. The doctor’s note for that day states: “Echo Done. Will Review.”

Despite the abnormal and critical findings on the ECHO, our client’s pericardial effusion was not addressed by the physician. Four days after the ECHO, the patient was found non-responsive in her room and Code Blue (immediate resuscitation) was initiated. She was transferred to another facility where she had her second heart attack and her overall health rapidly declined.

Our firm filed a lawsuit against Oakwood Southshore Medical Center, the doctors involved, and the sonogram technician for their failure to catch and treat the pleural effusion clearly seen on the ECHO, which led to her untimely death.