Failure to Diagnose Pulmonary Embolism Lawsuit in Frederick

Helfman v. USA (Army Health Clinic)

Nursing Home elderThis is a failure to diagnose pulmonary embolism lawsuit filed on behalf of a woman in Frederick, Maryland. It was filed in Health Claims Arbitration on April 13, and it is the 173rd medical malpractice case filed in Maryland in 2017.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

A 48-year-old woman goes to an Army Health Clinic due to dizziness, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, palpitations, and fatigue for almost two weeks. She is evaluated and found to have a high heart rate and a high respiratory rate. Blood tests and EKG results are abnormal, all pointing to a pulmonary embolism. However, the woman is diagnosed with mild anemia due to menstrual bleeding. She is discharged without limitations.

Just two days later, she collapses in her home and dies. An autopsy reveals that the cause of her death was a pulmonary embolism due to multiple blood clots. Her family files this claim on her behalf, alleging the blood clots were present when she went to the facility and that she should have been sent to the hospital for a proper work up.

Additional Comments
  • This is obese woman who allegedly had shortness of breath, dizziness, lighheadness, nausea, palpitations, tachycardia, tachypnea, and an abnormal EKG. Interestingly, it appears the case is going to be that the physician's assistant was told of these symptoms and failed to record them. If the jury believes plaintiffs' version of the facts, it is hard to believe that would not be game, set, and match for the plaintiffs.
  • Even with the symptoms listed in the medical records - dizziness and shortness of breath -- the standard of care is going to be to rule out a pulmonary embolism.
Jurisdiction
  • Federal court
Negligence
  • Failure to elicit a detailed history of patient's dyspnea and quantify her symptoms
  • Failure to record the nature of the patient's complaints
  • Failure to inquire and look for leg swelling, pain, and tenderness
  • Failure to inquire about risk factors for life threatening cardiopulmonary diseases
  • Failure to perform adequate physical assessment and to properly diagnose and treat patient
  • Failure to recognize the patient's life threatening symptoms mandated a diagnosis that included going to the ER to be properly examined and treated
  • Negligently attributing patient's condition to anemia due to menstrual bleeding
  • Failure to obtain patient's informed consent for disposition decision of discharge without limits
Plaintiff's Experts and Areas of Specialty
  • Paul Genecin, M.D. - board certified in Internal Medicine, associated with Yale Medical Group and Yale University
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