ER Attorneys Win Medical Malpractice Trial for Stroke Victim

After a two week long trial, ER partners Kenneth Rothweiler and Daniel Jeck obtained a verdict in favor of their client for a defendant’s failure to timely diagnosis a stroke.

On the morning of September 13, 2002, the plaintiff a 36 year old man began experiencing symptoms of slurred speech, dizziness and right-sided weakness while at work as a cook for the US Postal Service. He called his mother who picked him up from work and drove him to the Chestnut Hill Hospital where he was seen in the emergency department. Upon arrival to the emergency department his mother explained to the staff that her son was having difficulty speaking and his tongue was swollen. His blood pressure was elevated at 149/83 and he was noted to be taking a blood pressure medication which was an ace-inhibitor known as Lotrel.

The defendant in this case, an attending emergency room physician saw the plaintiff and performed a physical examination which revealed a severely swollen tongue. While the physical exam was deemed to be otherwise normal, there was a notable absence of a neurological assessment. The physician diagnosed the plaintiff with an allergic reaction to Lotrel.

Over the weekend his condition did not improve and on Monday he presented to his family practitioner who, upon noting his speech difficulty and right-sided weakness, immediately sent him to Albert Einstein Medical Center Emergency Department with instructions to rule out stroke. A CT scan was performed and indeed confirmed that the plaintiff had sustained a stroke.

As a result of the defendant’s negligence and failure to timely and appropriately diagnose, treat and admit the plaintiff he suffered the opportunity to avoid the consequences and sequelae of a debilitating stroke. Following a two week jury trial in Philadelphia a verdict was returned in the favor of the plaintiff. Ken and Dan argued that a stroke should have been considered and ruled out in the emergency room. They further argued that had a stroke been considered the plaintiff could have been placed on TPA medication that would have lessened the affect of the stroke. According to Ken and Dan the negligent failure to consider and rule out stroke effectively closed the window of opportunity to receive the benefit of treatment.