A jury awarded a Maryland Heights man and his wife $6.4 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit against the man’s physician after he suffered a stroke in 2007. The plaintiffs alleged the stroke could have been prevented if the physician had properly diagnosed and treated a bacterial infection on the man’s heart valve.
Facts of Malpractice Lawsuit
The physician had diagnosed the plaintiff with mitral valve prolapse (a condition in which a heart valve does not close tightly, resulting in a blow flow backward into the heart) five years earlier.
The condition continued to show up on tests for five years. The plaintiffs alleged the physician did not order any follow-up echocardiograms (tests that would properly show the condition) and the condition was not brought up again by the physician as if it no longer existed. In mid-2007, the plaintiff became very ill with fatigue, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain, which he brought to his physician’s attention. The physician referred the plaintiff to multiple doctors but did not refer him to a cardiologist or order any tests that would examine his heart.
One month later, the plaintiff’s wife requested the physician admit her husband to a hospital because of his deteriorating condition. The physician allegedly responded to the wife’s request by telling her to wait for the test result from a hematologist. The plaintiff suffered an acute stroke two months after the initial complaint which resulted from an infection on his heart valve. The stroke left the defendant with restricted mobility on the right side of his body, damage to his short-term memory, and difficulty processing words. These disabilities have resulted in the plaintiff being unable to work.
The attorneys for the physician and medical practice argued a lack of evidence that could prove negligence or negligence that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The jury found in favor of the plaintiffs with a $6.4 million verdict; a verdict that is noted as one of the largest medical malpractice awards in the state of Missouri.
Stroke Misdiagnosis Verdicts and Settlements
YEAR / STATE
2022 – New York
A 50-something man experienced nausea, headaches, weakness, and vomiting. He presented to the ER. The physician suspected a stroke. She ordered a CT scan. The radiologist interpreted the results as normal. The man was diagnosed with gastritis. He was discharged. The man’s symptoms worsened. Two days later, the man returned to the hospital. Tests revealed a stroke. The man developed hydrocephalus. He underwent a craniectomy, a laminectomy, a ventriculostomy, and a duroplasty. The man sustained residual ambulation and speech impairments. He underwent years of physical and occupational therapies. The man now used a walking aid. He alleged negligence against the hospital. The man claimed its staff failed to timely diagnose a stroke and order additional tests to rule it out. A jury awarded $2,550,000.
$2,550,000 – Verdict
2021 – Arizona
A man suffered stroke-like symptoms. He was admitted. The hospital staff diagnosed the man with multiple blood clots. However, they failed to provide antiplatelet medications, including aspirin. Over 12 hours later, the man experienced a severe stroke. He was left permanently disabled. The man alleged negligence against the hospital. He claimed its staff failed to administer antiplatelet medications, diagnose his initial stroke, remove a blood clot, and provide appropriate stroke treatments. The jury awarded $11,000,000.
$11,000,000 – Verdict
2021 – Connecticut
A 50-something man underwent a perianal lesion removal. Following the procedure, the medical staff noticed stroke symptoms, including a drooping face and communication difficulties. The man was diagnosed with right-sided paralysis. He was transferred to another hospital. The staff confirmed an embolic stroke. The radiologist removed a cerebral blood clot via angiography. He spent one month in the hospital. The man was then transferred to an in-patient rehabilitation facility. He received occupational, physical, and speech therapies. The man now required lifelong care. He used a wheelchair and a walker. The man and his wife alleged negligence against the hospital. They claimed its staff failed to appreciate his prior stroke, negligently discontinued his anti-coagulant medication, and failed to consult the man’s physician. The jury awarded $4,200,000.
$4,200,000 – Verdict
2021 – Florida
A man received a critical bilateral carotid stenosis diagnosis. His physician scheduled a surgical procedure that was to occur three weeks later. One week before the scheduled procedure, the man woke up feeling dizzy, unsteady, and disoriented. He presented to the ER. The man was diagnosed with bradycardia and a transient ischemic attack. Shortly after, he became unresponsive. The surgeon was on vacation. His colleague took his place. The man was transferred to the telemetry unit. The attending surgeon ordered multiple tests. After 30 hours, the tests were finally completed. However, the man’s condition rapidly deteriorated. He was transferred to the ICU. The man died hours later. A massive stroke caused his death. The man’s family alleged negligence against the hospital. They claimed its staff failed to timely treat his stroke and failed to perform an emergency procedure. The jury awarded $7,500,000.
$7,500,000 – Verdict
2020 – Indiana
A 45-year-old woman suffered an undiagnosed acute ischemic stroke. She subsequently suffered a massive, fatal stroke. Her adult daughter alleged that the healthcare providers’ failure to timely diagnose her initial stroke resulted in her death. She settled with the healthcare providers for an undisclosed amount that satisfied Indiana law. The daughter then filed a claim against the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund. She alleged that the claimed damages exceeded the initial settlement. The parties settled for $1,000,000.
$1,000,000 – Settlement
2019 – Washington
A 17-year-old girl underwent a cardiac catheterization. During the procedure, the surgical team could not locate intra-arterial balloons and stents. This prompted them to temporarily halt the procedure for 40 minutes. The teenager developed clotting as a result. Following the procedure, a nurse observed right-sided hemiplegia signs. Despite this, the hospital staff failed to diagnose her ischemic strokes for three hours. By then, it was too late to effectively address her condition. The teen developed right-side hemiplegia, verbal and cognitive limitations, Broca’s aphasia, and executive function loss. She now required round-the-clock care. The teen’s family alleged that the hospital staff’s negligence caused her permanent injuries. She claimed they negligently performed the cardiac catheterization and delayed her stroke diagnosis. The hospital staff denied liability. They argued that her pre-existing diabetes, obesity, sleep apnea, and hypertension caused her stroke. A jury ruled in the family’s favor and awarded them $13,953,887.
$13,953,887 – Verdict
2019 – Florida
A man presented to the emergency room with left-sided hemiplegia, headaches, and slurred speech. The attending physician ordered a CT scan, which the radiologist interpreted as normal. The man was diagnosed with heat exhaustion with possible anxiety attacks and a transient alteration of consciousness. He was discharged home shortly after. The following day, the man presented to another emergency room with the same symptoms. He received a stroke diagnosis. The man was now permanently paralyzed. He alleged that the initial treating emergency room staff’s failure to timely diagnose and treat his stroke caused this. The man and his wife eventually agreed to an $875,000 settlement.
$875,000 – Settlement
2019 – Nevada
A 55-year-old woman underwent a laparoscopic repair of her incarcerated paraesophageal hernia. Following the procedure, she suffered a gastrointestinal perforation and leak that became infected. The woman’s blood circulation became compromised. She subsequently underwent bilateral foot amputations. The woman alleged that the physician’s failure to timely diagnose and treat her condition caused her permanent injuries. The physician denied her allegations. The jury found the physician 100 percent liable. They awarded the woman a $5,871,495 verdict.
$5,871,495 – Verdict
2016 – Illinois
A 50-year-old man suffered a stroke that left him with memory, balance, and vision problems. This occurred after visiting the emergency room with sharp headaches, neck pain and stiffness, vomiting, dizziness, and disorientation. The man alleged that the hospital staff’s failure to timely diagnose a stroke caused these permanent injuries. He claimed they failed to diagnose a subarachnoid hemorrhage, order a CT scan and lumbar puncture, consult a neurologist, and admit him. The hospital staff denied negligence. Both parties agreed to settle for $20,000,000.
$20,000,000 – Settlement
2016 – Arizona
A 41-year-old man presented to the emergency room with headaches, neck pain, sudden dizziness, blurry vision, nausea, and dry heaving. He received headache and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo diagnoses. The man was discharged the following day. While on his way home, he became unresponsive and suffered a stroke. The man developed catastrophic brain damage. He was now significantly disabled and required lifelong round-the-clock care. The man and his wife alleged that the hospital staff’s failure to diagnose his vertebral arterial dissection caused his stroke. They received a $6,300,000 verdict.
$6,300,000 – Verdict