Dr B was distraught at the outcome for his patient, but he did not believe he had done anything wrong. He met with his malpractice attorney and told him that he did not want to settle because he did not believe he was guilty of anything. “I diagnosed her with carpal tunnel,” he told the attorney. “She had carpal tunnel. The hand specialist confirmed it. The stroke was entirely coincidental and unrelated.”
The case went to trial before a jury. The plaintiffs claimed that Mrs C’s stroke was avoidable had Dr B acted within the standard of care during her December visits because 1) he would have discovered the blockage in the carotid artery by listening to the artery or ordering an ultrasound or Doppler; or 2) he would have placed Mrs C on aspirin therapy which reduces the risk of ischemic strokes.
Two plaintiffs’ medical experts testified. The first expert concluded that Dr B departed from the standard of care by failing to consider TIA or stroke; failing to listen to the carotid artery for blockage; failure to recheck her abnormally high blood pressure on the last visit; and failing to place her on aspirin therapy. The expert did not dispute the carpal tunnel diagnosis but concluded that it inadequately explained the symptoms.
The second expert believed that the complaint of sudden numbness, particularly on the left side, was a neurological symptom that should have led Dr B to address the possibility of stroke. He noted that the patients blurred vision and dizziness could have been caused by a TIA. The second expert concluded that Dr B’s judgments were below the standard of care owed to the patient.
Dr B introduced his own experts who testified that he had acted within the standard of care.
The trial lasted 3 weeks, and at the end of it, Dr B was found liable, and the family of Mrs C was awarded $900,000.