Liable for not doing a heart cath on a 49 year-old

Interesting case with an unfortunate outcome:

Daniel Bettencourt was 49 when he suffered a fatal heart attack while working as a manual laborer at E.&J. Gallo Winery on Jan. 15, 2003.

An autopsy determined that the Modesto man had more than 90 percent blockage in an artery that supplies blood to the left side of the heart.

Last week, a jury found that Gould Medical Group doctors had failed to diagnose Bettencourt’s heart condition.

A 49 year-old male has recurrent chest pain. He was referred to a cardiologist and had two negative stress tests. That sounds like reasonable standard of care to me, although I probably would have done a more detailed second stress test – such as a stress-echo or MIBI. As the defense stated, you can’t cath everybody with chest pain (although if they had, this lawsuit would have been avoided – score another point for defensive medicine).

View 12 Comments >