Partner Scott Frycek secured a dismissal of a medical malpractice action brought against a physician and urgent care center. It was alleged that the doctor and the practice failed to timely diagnose and treat bacterial endocarditis in a patient leading to a brain embolism, the need for brain surgery, and permanent cognitive problems. The patient complained of right-sided chest pain after being kicked in the right side of the chest 20 days before while playing football. More recently, the patient was treated at a hospital for a cough and flu-like symptoms which exacerbated his right-sided chest pain. He reported that his symptoms were improving after being prescribed Tamiflu by another provider.
The patient was afebrile with stable vital signs. Our client examined the patient and noted normal findings referable to the lungs and heart. An area of tenderness was appreciated over a rib on the right side. The patient had no focal neurological deficits. Our client performed an x-ray and diagnosed the patient with a rib contusion. The patient went to a hospital the following day after he started experiencing mental status changes and was subsequently treated for brain abscesses secondary to endocarditis.
Scott argued that the physician timely and appropriately elicited a medical history, performed a comprehensive physical examination, conducted appropriate tests, and considered an appropriate differential diagnosis. He maintained that there was no reason for our clients to suspect an ongoing infectious process or endocarditis, perform a blood culture, prescribe antibiotics, or refer the patient to the ER. Scott further argued that even if our clients considered endocarditis or some infectious process, the patient’s subsequent hospital course and the outcome would not have been different.
The Court agreed and all claims asserted against our clients were dismissed.