Heart Attack Misdiagnosis Lawsuit in Chestertown

Belka v. University of Maryland Medical System

Heart ArrhythmiaThis is a survival and wrongful death medical malpractice suit filed by a widow who lost her husband who had been treated at Chester River Hospital in Kent County. The gist of the case is that the ER doctors and cardiologist who consulted with them failed to diagnose a heart attack. It was filed in Maryland Health Claims Arbitration on February 6, 2017. It is the 64th medical malpractice case filed in 2017 in Maryland.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

A patient goes to the emergency room at Chester River Hospital in Chestertown with sharp pain in his left upper chest and shoulder. Chester River is a small, 57-bed hospital owned by the University of Maryland. Still,

The patient informs the emergency room staff that that he has a significant cardiac history for heart attack, coronary artery disease, stents, quadruple bypass, and a pacemaker. He provides a whopping list of nine medications that he is taking the ER nurse. But instead of recording the medication, the nurse indicates that the medications were provided during a visit three years ago.

The patient has an electrocardiogram (ECG) done which shows sinus bradycardia, a low heart rate, a first-degree atrioventricular block and T-wave abnormality. So clearly there are some bad things happening to a man who could not be at more risk for a cardiac event. The hospital does a blood test, but does not provide a nuclear stress test. Defendants inform the patient and his wife that the ECG and blood tests are normal and that plaintiff has a pulled muscle in his left shoulder. He is given a prescription for cyclobenzaprine - which is a muscle relaxant -- and is discharged.

The next day, defendant doctors review the ECG and cross out "non-specific intraventricular block" and write "left bundle branch block." By reviewing the record, the family malpractice attorney claims that the defendants should have known that the patient did not have a prior medical history significant for this or an atrioventricular block. Defendants did not call patient regarding this information. The day after he is discharged from the hospital, plaintiff is starts becoming lethargic and fatigued.

Another day later, the man's wife finds him unresponsive. She calls 911, and paramedics find him in cardiac arrest when they arrive. They attempt CPR and rush him to the ER. Tragically, he is pronounced dead fifteen minutes after his arrival at the ER. The cause of death includes coronary artery disease, sick sinus syndrome, hypertension, and dyslipidemia.

Plaintiff alleges that cyclobenzaprine is a contraindication for a patient with a history of cardiac disease as it is well-known to exacerbate these conditions and cause cardiac arrest and death.

Additional Comments
  • The lawsuit is brought by the victim's wife. The couple also had an adult disabled daughter who is not represented by the lawyer bringing the malpractice lawsuit for the widow. The most likely explanation is that they wisely want to prevent the adult daughter from receiving money that would impact any governmental assistance she is getting.
  • This case was filed on the eve of the statute of limitations. Apparently, 2017 is the year of filing malpractice cases just before limitations pass. There are so many medical malpractice cases filed just before the deadline. When you are the plaintiff in a malpractice case, you really have the chance to have your case completely ready to go when you file suit. Filing before the statute of limitations can take some of the force out of this powerful advantage.
  • Kent County may be the least active courthouse in Maryland. There were 15 tort cases filed in Circuit Court in Kent County in 2015. The last malpractice lawsuit we could find that was filed against Chester River Hospital was in 2015 in a malpractice case that alleges that a foreign body missed in the patient's left eye caused blindness. Before that, there were a few that we found in 2009. One was medical malpractice lawsuit for failure to diagnose a staph infection. The case was voluntarily dismissed a year later. Also, there was a case filed in federal court in 2009 for failure to stabilize a neck injury after an emergency room visit. We probably missed a few more. But the take home message is this jurisdiction is not a hot bed of malpractice cases.
Jurisdiction
  • Kent County
Defendants
  • University of Maryland Medical System Corporation
  • University of Maryland Shore Regional Health, Inc.
  • An ER doctor
  • Chestertown Cardiology, LLC
  • A cardiologist
Hospitals Where Patient was Treated
  • Chester River Hospital/University of Maryland Shore Regional Health
Negligence
  • Failure to recognize plaintiff was suffering from a life-threatening cardiac emergency when he presented to the ER originally
  • Prescribing cyclobenzaprine when plaintiff's ECG reveals it would be contraindicative
  • Prescribing cyclobenzaprine while plaintiff was using Bupropion
  • Failure to accurately record plaintiff's current medications and prior medical records
  • Failure to inform plaintiff he suffered an atrioventricular block, a left bundle branch block, and inferolateral ischemia
  • Failure to conduct cardiac catheterization
Specific Counts Pled
  • Survival Action
  • Wrongful Death
Plaintiff's Experts and Areas of Specialty
  • None at this time
Plaintiff Firm/Attorneys Getting a Lawyer for Your Wrongful Death Malpractice Claim

If you or a loved one have suffered a permanent injury or death due to the negligence of a doctor or hospital staff, Miller & Zois can help you. We have a long history of obtaining large verdicts and settlements in medical malpractice cases. Get a free online case review or call us today to speak to a medical malpractice attorney at 800-553-8082.

More Malpractice Claim Information
  • So many medical malpractice lawsuits in Maryland involve the failure to diagnose a heart attack. The preceding link talks about these cases and give a laundry list of other failure to diagnose a cardiac event cases that have been filed in Maryland. We also list sample settlements and verdicts in these cases .
  • A surgical malpractice case filed against University of Maryland Medical Center in February 2016
  • Another surgical malpractice case regarding a kidney surgery filed against University of Maryland Medical System in 2016
  • The common types of medication error lawsuits and some verdicts and settlements

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