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Aortic Dissection Diagnosis Delayed

Selected Illinois Verdicts and Settlements

$4,500,000 Verdict (Will County): After M-43 entered defendant’s E/R with severe chest pains, a CT-scan showed a dilated aorta, raising the suspicion of aortic dissection. To confirm the diagnosis, a CT-scan with contrast was ordered, but was not performed. When the dissection was finally diagnosed hours later, a surgeon could not be located to do the repair on an emergency basis. Consequently, the patient suffered cardiac arrest and died before surgery could be done. The verdict, which was against multiple defendants, is subject to several high/low agreements, which reduced the total award to $3,350,000.

$4,750,000 Settlement (Cook County): On February 11, M-45 underwent a magnetic resonance angiogram that had been ordered by his cardiologist to check for an aneurysm. However, the scan was not read until February 21—one day after the patient died due to an untreated ascending aortic dissection. Timely reading of the scan would have revealed the condition, which was more likely than not treatable surgically.

Defense Verdict (Lake County): Allegedly, defendants negligently failed to order proper tests and obtain a cardiothoracic surgical consult after M-62 was brought to the E/R with significant chest pain. As a result, the patient coded and died from an undiagnosed aortic dissection. The defendants argued that the patient did not present with signs/symptoms that were indicative of aortic dissection. The defense further asserted that even if the dissection had been diagnosed earlier, it was so severe that the patient most likely would not have survived any attempted repair surgery. Reportedly, a family practice group settled out for $550,000 after the close of evidence.

Defense Verdict (Cook County): Defendant radiologist misread the patient’s CT-scan as normal, failing to identify a clear aortic dissection, resulting in a 5-hour delay in diagnosing a dissecting aortic aneurysm. While M-50 was in the operating room being prepared for surgery, his ascending aorta ruptured, resulting in severe brain damage that subsequently claimed his life. The court directed negligence against defendants. However, the defense denied causation, contending that the diagnosis of aortic dissection was made in time for the patient to receive corrective surgery—and that subsequent delays by other treating doctors were the sole proximate cause of the brain damage. Reportedly, the estate will receive $500,000 from defendants pursuant to a high/low agreement. In addition, the defendant hospital previously settled out for $1.2 million.

$1,000,000 Settlement (Winnebago County): On-call cardiologist ordered a CT-scan shortly after F-61 was admitted to the hospital for chest and back pain, but the order was not carried out for 48 hours. Consequently, the patient’s aortic dissection ruptured and caused her death. Allegedly, defendant’s nurses misinterpreted the order and canceled it.

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