This 32-year old mother of three had a history of migraine headaches that she treated successfully with over-the-counter medications. The patient went to the emergency room after suffering a severe headache all day. The emergency room physicians failed to order a brain CT to diagnose the cause of her severe headaches and classic emerging stroke presentation. After six hours in the emergency room, she was ordered to be discharged. She told the nurses that she felt too sick to go home and was given discharge narcotics for pain and allowed to remain in her examining room until she felt well enough to leave. Her brain bleed fully erupted as she laid on a gurney in the examining room about an hour after her discharge. Brain surgery failed and she died one week later.
This all took place in the face of repeated complaints of headaches with the classic signs and symptoms of an evolving brain bleed including severe, disabling frontal headaches that changed as she shifted positions; headaches that were different than any headache she had ever experienced; headaches that were unrelieved by increasingly potent pain medications and narcotics; nausea and vomiting; and new high blood pressure.
The plaintiff’s experts stated that it was negligent for the emergency room physician to treat these severe headaches with ever-increasing doses of narcotics that, if anything, served to mask the symptoms; failing to order a head CT (or other diagnostic studies such as brain arteriogram or spinal tap); failing to obtain Mrs. Myles’ prior records from the same hospital to allow a comparison with an earlier headache presentation and blood pressures; and failing to consult with specialists or treating physicians in an effort to properly workup the patient.
The case settled for a substantial sum during mediation. The entire plaintiffs’ distribution was deposited into court controlled and supervised trusts in the names of the three young children.