This medical negligence/wrongful death case arises out of the death of a prominent Yakima attorney at age 46. An autopsy concluded that he “succumbed to advanced coronary artery disease with both acute and old myocardial infarction.” Our client had nearly every significant risk factor for coronary artery disease. These included: (1) male gender; (2) middle age; (3) high blood pressure; (4) high cholesterol; (5) prior history of smoking; and (6) family history of heart disease. This information was all available in his doctor’s chart.
We contended that our client’s primary care doctor, a board certified internist, missed multiple opportunities to diagnose and treat our client’s coronary artery disease over an 11 year period.
Under his doctor’s care, our client’s cholesterol level was taken only twice in 11 years (with the second test revealing abnormal levels) and his hypertension was not well controlled. Five years before he died, our client underwent two resting EKGs which his doctor interpreted as abnormal and borderline, respectively. This prompted a referral to a cardiologist who administered a treadmill test and reported back to the primary care doctor that our client had “an ischemic response during maximal level of activity.” However, the defendant doctor did nothing.
Two weeks before he died, our client saw his doctor and complained of multiple cardiovascular symptoms. These included irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, and substernal chest tightness. An EKG performed that day showed our client had suffered a heart attack in the past and that he had significant coronary artery disease.
We contended that the doctor should have hospitalized our client or referred him to a cardiologist for evaluation that very day.
We also contended that if our client had been hospitalized, stabilized, and worked up during the month before his death, an angiogram would have discovered his 3-vessel disease. He would have then likely received either angioplasty or bypass surgery, which would have prevented his fatal heart attack.