Heather Hansen secured a defense verdict in favor of an emergency medicine physician following an eight day jury trial in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

The patient was 18 years of age and the lawsuit was brought by his father. The patient had a history of passing out with exertion which was previously worked up by pediatric cardiologists and no further treatment was recommended. In 2007, the patient was playing football when he experienced chest pain and shortness of breath. He was taken to a local emergency room, and the emergency medicine physician consulted trauma and cardiology within minutes of his arrival. EKG’s were obtained and were abnormal. He was seen by cardiology and was in the process of being admitted to the CCU when he passed away from a rare cardiac defect. Specifically, the cause of death was an anomalous origin of the left coronary artery.

The plaintiff’s expert witnesses alleged that the emergency medicine physician was responsible for all of the care since he was still in the emergency room, despite being in the process of being admitted to the CCU. Plaintiff’s experts also alleged that other medications should have been given, the attending cardiologist should have been called, and the patient should have been taken to the catheterization lab. The documentation and medical care provided by the cardiology staff was also criticized. Plaintiff had claims for wrongful death and survival, including a claim for lost earnings.

The defense was that the emergency medicine physician obtained the appropriate consultations in an extremely timely and appropriate manner, and provided treatment that was appropriate. It was not the standard of care for an emergency medicine physician to take such patients to the catheterization lab, and evidence was presented that his death could not have been prevented due to his rare cardiac defect. The jury determined that the emergency medicine physician was not negligent.