Marshall L. Schwartz recently obtained a defense verdict on behalf of two cardiologists in a nine-day jury trial involving allegations of a failure to properly monitor a patient’s Coumadin usage following a cardiac catherization, as well as an alleged failure to recognize neurologic signs and symptoms prior to the patient suffering a hemorrhagic stroke.

This case involved a patient who had a longstanding medical history of coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, and who had undergone gastric bypass surgery multiple times for morbid obesity. He also had been taking Coumadin for several years due to his risk factors for stroke. The patient presented to his cardiologist with symptoms of shortness of breath, and was advised to have a cardiac catherization which was scheduled to take place a few days later. The patient was also instructed to stop taking his Coumadin prior to the procedure. The cardiac catherization was performed without incident, and the patient was instructed to resume taking his Coumadin, follow up with the cardiology practice in a week, and have his Coumadin levels monitored by his primary care provider.

About a week after the patient was discharged from the hospital, he was seen for a follow up appointment with a practitioner at the cardiology practice. The practitioner found that he was neurologically intact. Two days later, he followed up with his primary care provider who historically monitored his Coumadin levels. His blood levels were in range, and he was instructed to continue the same Coumadin dosage that he had been taking since the procedure. Then, about ten later, the patient began to experience symptoms of stroke. His primary care provider ordered an MRI of the brain that revealed a left temporal hemorrhage. Ultimately, the patient was diagnosed with a stroke, however, no surgical intervention was necessary.

The defense successfully argued that although the patient suffered a stroke, it was not the result of any action, or inaction on behalf of anyone in the cardiology practice. In support of this argument, an expert cardiologist and nurse practitioner were called to testify and supported this defense.

After deliberation, the jury returned a unanimous verdict, finding that the defendant physicians’ care and treatment of the plaintiff was not negligent.