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Melnick v. Mid Atlantic Cardiology Associates, P.A.

Practice Area: Medical malpractice

Outcome: Plaintiff's verdict for $1,271,947.00

Description: 40-year-old, married, father of three presented to his primary care physician with complaint of heart palpitations over the preceding week. An EKG administered by the primary care physician showed significant abnormalities and resulted in his admission to a local hospital. An urgent cardiac catheterization revealed dilated cardiomyopathy (a condition characterized by dilatation and decreased function of the left ventricle of the heart) with normal coronary arteries and global hypokenesia (diminished movement of the heart muscle). The physicians were initially unable to explain the patient's sudden onset, rapidly progressive and intractable heart failure with uncontrollable arrythmias. Though the pohysicians knew that the only way to establish a diagnosis was by heart biopsy, and though consideration was given to the performance of a biopsy, the decision nonetheless was to forego biopsy. A cardiac defibrillator was implanted in the patient's chest and he was discharged from the hospital despite continued non-sustained ventricular tachycardia and other evidence of progressive heart failure. His discharge diagnosis was non-ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy of unknown origin. In fact, the patient had a condition known as giant cell myocarditis, a rapidly progressive disease that requires the urgent administration of drugs to suppress the immune system pending heart transplant. Because of the failure to perform a heart biopsy and make the diagnosis, the patient was deprived of the appropriate treatment and went on to die of heart failure.

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