Wife of 51 Yr Old Deceased Attorney Proceeds To Jury Trial On Wrongful Death Claim Against Cardiologist
Last month Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice St. George denied a motion to dismiss a wrongful death medical malpractice claim against a cardiologist. The suit was filed by the wife of a 51 year old attorney who died as a result of congestive heart failure brought on by hypertension and atherosclerotic heart disease. An autopsy revealed the attorney had coronary blockages from 90-100% which are amenable to treatment with cardiac catheterization and stenting, or, an open bypass procedure. The attorney's death occurred 11 days after he visited the defendant cardiologist at the suggestion of his primary care physician.
The referral to a cardiologist was prompted by an abnormally high calcium score test (556), a history of obesity, high cholesterol, and a complaint of shortness of breath when walking on an incline. The plaintiff's expert cardiologist claimed that the attorney should have been immediately admitted to a hospital for a stress test which would have triggered an angiogram leading to a cardiac catheterization which would have avoided the premature death.
The cardiologist's expert argued that there was no urgency for cardiac testing because the attorney had continued his usual daily activities walking more than a mile each day, working, swimming, shopping and having intimate marital relations without any complaints. The defense expert argued that the shortness of breath walking on inclines was a non-specific finding without any significance. Therefore, this expert concluded that the cardiologist appropriately prescribed daily baby aspirin and a nuclear stress test within 15 days of the visit. The Court held that only a jury could decide whether the cardiologist negligently delayed the stress test and whether that negligence was a substantial contributing factor in the attorney's death. Novak v Freilich, 2019 WL 5406864