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Delay in Diagnosing Heart Attack

Filed under Wrongful Death

The Prusak Case

In this case, we represented the Estate and the family of our deceased client, Richard Prusak.

Mr. Prusak, a 54 year old husband and father of two children, went to his primary care physician complaining of chest tightness. He was sent to the emergency room where an EKG was ordered. The EKG was read as abnormal, and the results were sent to his PCP, who did not review or follow-up on the test.

A few days later, he went back to the emergency department, and again an EKG was read which showed abnormal EKG findings, which again were not followed-up on.

Mr. Prusak was diagnosed with pneumonia by his primary care physician, and told to return for a B-12 shot. A few days later, Mr. Prusak again presented to the emergency room where an ultrasound of his abdomen showed possible cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder). Since his primary care physician was out of town, Mr. Prusak was transferred to the care of a surgeon who did not pay any attention to any heart abnormalities and operated to remove Mr. Prusak’s gallbladder.

After the surgery, Mr. Prusak continued to have chest pain, and was told that it was post-operative pain, or a possible other abdominal ailment. He was sent back to his PCP then back to his surgeon and then again back to his PCP where he was given a referral to another gastroenterologist.

The next day, Mr. Prusak died of a massive heart attack.

The case was filed in Allegheny County against the PCP and the surgeon at the hospital for failure to follow-up on the abnormal EKG’s, failure to check for heart problems, and failure to perform a cardiac work-up.

The defendants produced experts to state that the signs that Mr. Prusak presented with were confusing, and that the care of Mr. Prusak was not the responsibility of any one physician. They also claimed that a referral was in the works, and that the heart attack could not have been predicted.

Several weeks prior to jury selection, the case settled for a substantial sum. Our client was survived by his wife and two children.