RI Medical Malpractice Settlement: $1.5 Million for Failure to Diagnose TIA / Stroke

Lawsuit claimed the emergency department staff was negligent when they failed to recognize and appreciate that she was experiencing transient ischemic attack (TIA) leading to stroke

Trial Lawyer's Report: William Thompson, Plaintiff's Attorney, Washington Superior Court (RI)

The plaintiff, a 54 year old single woman with no children, had a past medical history including hypertension, high cholesterol, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), spinal stenosis, and smoking one pack per day.

She presented to the Emergency Department with complaints of nausea, vomiting, dizziness and right hand weakness. Her vital signs upon arrival were temperature 97.6, blood pressure 148/68, heart rate 100, respiratory rate 20, and room air oxygen saturation 99%. She denied pain. An EKG revealed normal sinus rhythm at 89.

The ED staff noted her symptoms, and noted she had a chiropractor manipulate her neck the day prior. Laboratory studies and a head CT were reported as negative.

She was treated with 325 mg of Aspirin, Zofran, Maalox, and 500cc ml of normal saline (NS). All of the patient’s symptoms resolved. The ED staff diagnosed her with a vasovagal episode and cervical radiculopathy. She was discharged home with prescriptions for Prilosec and aspirin, and instructions to follow-up with her primary care physician.

One week later, she returned to the Emergency Department via ambulance after being found by the side of the bed moaning. She had mental status changes, no movement on the right side, and was moaning and grunting. She was lethargic, aphasic, and had labored breathing.

She was diagnosed with a left middle cerebral artery (MCA) territory infarct; a non-occlusive thrombus in the left common carotid artery deemed to be too large for surgical intervention; and a large patent foramen ovale (PFO). Following rehabilitation, she was walking with assistance including a four-legged cane and a right leg brace. She still had limited use of her right arm and ongoing deficits with speech, reading, writing, and calculations.

The plaintiff claimed the ED staff was negligent when they failed to recognize and appreciate that she was experiencing a TIA, and failed to admit her for further work up including but not limited to brain MRI, echocardiogram and both neurology and cardiac consults to determine the cause of the TIA. The ED staff denied liability, and contended the stroke was unavoidable and not due to any negligence.

The case settled after discovery for $1,500,000.

Lubin & Meyer PC - Rhode Island's Leader in Medical Malpractice Law

Contact Us button