Failure to Diagnose and Treat Unstable Angina Prompts $1M Arbitration Award

February 18, 2019 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​A plaintiff, the estate of a deceased patient, was awarded more than $1 million in an arbitration proceeding, settling allegations that healthcare providers failed to appreciate the patient's cardiac risks and failed to timely diagnose and treat his unstable angina that ultimately resulted in his death, according to a report from Zarin's Medical Liability Alert (subscription required). The 52-year-old patient was a commercial drilling supervisor with a 20-year history of smoking, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, and elevated lipids. He visited a rheumatologist complaining of "chest pain related to exertion." He was referred to the defendant cardiology clinic for a treadmill stress test, which was performed by a nurse. The nurse did not document the nature of the patient's chest pain, when it began, or which factors exacerbated or relieved his symptoms. The patient allegedly developed chest pain after 7.5 minutes on the treadmill. He reached his target heart rate and the nurse discontinued the test after 9.5 minutes "due to chest pain." The test revealed no ST segment changes. The patient was sent home without seeing a physician.

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