Virginia Lawyers Weekly//July 25, 2022
Virginia Lawyers Weekly//July 25, 2022//
Type of action: Medical malpractice
Injuries alleged: Permanent homonymous hemianopsia resulting from alleged failure to diagnose and treat stroke
Court: Augusta County Circuit Court
Tried before: Jury
Date resolved: 4/5/2022
Verdict or settlement: Verdict
Amount: $0 (defense)
Attorneys for defendant (and city): Michael E. Olszewski and Tracie M. Dorfman, Fairfax
Description of case: The plaintiff presented to the emergency department on July 13, 2016, with complaints of blurry vision, unsteadiness on his feet and elevated blood pressure. He was seen by the defendant emergency medicine physician. After a full work-up, including a positive response to blood pressure medication, the defendant diagnosed the plaintiff with elevated blood pressure. The plaintiff was discharged with instructions to follow up with his primary care physician. On July 14, 2016, the plaintiff saw his primary care physician and reported his history of blurred vision and elevated blood pressure, along with a complaint of headache. The primary care physician adjusted the blood pressure medications and planned to do a cardiac workup. On July 15, 2016, the plaintiff’s wife contacted the primary care physician reporting that her husband still had a headache. The plaintiff was sent for a head CT scan which revealed a right posterior cerebral artery infarct. The plaintiff alleged that he has permanent homonymous hemianopsia (blindness in the left visual field) because of the stroke.
The plaintiff filed suit against the emergency medicine physician on July 5, 2018. The plaintiff alleged that, based upon his symptoms, the defendant should have initiated a stroke alert in the emergency department. The plaintiff alleged that he should have received tPA or undergone mechanical thrombectomy, either of which would have avoided his stroke impairment. Due to several COVID continuances, the case proceeded to trial on March 29, 2022.
At trial, the defense argued that the plaintiff’s presentation on July 13, 2016, was not consistent with stroke and the standard of care did not require the defendant to call a stroke alert. Moreover, even if a stroke alert had been called, the plaintiff was not a candidate for tPA or mechanical thrombectomy, and it was speculative to argue that either treatment would have changed the outcome.
After six days of evidence, the jury deliberated for two hours and returned a unanimous defense verdict.
Tracie Dorfman, counsel for the defendant, provided case information.