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Widow files $10 million wrongful-death lawsuit against Springfield hospital, doctors

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Aaron Martineau of Eugene was five days short of his 29th birthday when he died in September 2014.

A $10 million lawsuit filed Thursday on his behalf asserts Martineau’s death from a heart condition happened just 24 hours after he was ­misdiagnosed with noncardiac chest pain and discharged from a Springfield hospital.

Named as defendants in the wrongful-death suit are McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center; doctors Dariusz Zawierucha and Gary Josephsen; and a pair of local physiciansgroups, Doctor’s Emergency Room Corp., P.C., and Radiology Associates, P.C., which employed the doctors at the time of Martineau’s hospital visit.

Martineau’s widow, Jamie Martineau, alleges in the suit filed in Lane County Circuit Court that her husband went to ­McKenzie-Willamette’s emergency room on Sept. 2, 2014, while suffering from problems that included chest pain, shortness of breath and a slow heart rate.

A physician’s assistant created a list of potential diagnoses that raised the possibility that Martineau was suffering from “serious and potentially life-threatening cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary conditions,” the lawsuit says.

But after medical officials ordered an X-ray and reviewed it, they diagnosed Martineau with noncardiac chest pain and discharged him from the hospital, according to the suit.

He died one day later as a result of aortic dissection, the suit says.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, aortic dissection is somewhat rare. It results from a tear in the aorta, a large blood vessel branching off the heart. If blood from the tear ruptures the outside aortic wall, the condition often is fatal, according to the website.

The site also says that symptoms of aortic dissection may mimic those of other diseases, often leading to delays in diagnosis. The chance of survival greatly improves when the condition is detected early and treated promptly, according to the clinic’s website.

Jamie Martineau’s lawsuit alleges the “limited examinations and tests” done on her husband during his emergency room visit were insufficient to rule out or confirm serious conditions that were consistent with his symptoms.

She is seeking up to $3.5 million in economic damages as compensation for medical, funeral and burial expenses as well as the loss of Aaron Martineau’s income, earning capacity and services to his family and household.

The suit also seeks up to $6.5 million in noneconomic damages to compensate Aaron Martineau’s family for the loss of a loved one and to cover the “pain, anguish and mental trauma” that he suffered from the time of his discharge from the hospital until his death.

A McKenzie-Willamette spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. Officials with the physicians’ groups who were contacted Friday indicated they were not authorized to comment. The defendants have not yet filed formal responses to the suit in court.

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