Fall River, Mass.: A Bristol County jury has awarded $1.5 million to the family of a man who died of cardiac arrest after his physician failed to meet the standard of care. The family was represented by Keches Law Group attorneys Suzanne McDonough and Chanise Anderson. The trial for case #BRCV2013-01091 lasted two weeks and the jury deliberated for 20 hours over four days.
Starting in 2010, 26-year old Mark MacDougall, a plumber in his family business, presented to his primary care physician, John J. Looney MD, with signs of panic attacks. He also complained of increased anxiety, nervousness, palpitations, sweatiness, facial twitching, numbness in the hands and feet and localized pain his feet.
Mark was diagnosed with anxiety and received treatment for only anxiety over the course of the next two years.
It wasn’t until February 2012 when Mark went to back to his doctor’s office and reported a near-fainting episode, that the physician assistant, supervised by Dr. Looney, performed an EKG. Dr. Looney incorrectly determined that EKG was normal but agreed to the ordering of an echocardiogram and a Holter monitor, a wearable device that measures heart activity over 24 hours or longer.
Mr. MacDougall left that visit thinking everything was normal, continued treating for anxiety, working at the family plumbing business, and waited for Dr. Looney’s office to call him and schedule the follow up echocardiogram.
That call never came, and in August of 2012, Mark was working alone on a plumbing job in Milton, collapsed and died of an undiagnosed prolapsed mitral valve. Had Dr. Looney’s office had a proper follow up system to ensure those tests were completed, Mark would likely have been diagnosed properly, undergone surgical repair, and survived.
“The top three causes of death in the United States are heart disease, cancer and medical errors. This case centered around two of those three, and it could have been prevented” said Attorney Suzanne McDonough.
McDonough added “I am satisfied with the outcome of the case and the justice for Mark’s wife and two children, and I hope that this verdict acts as a reminder to medical professionals to be thorough and make sure simple safeguards are in place that could prevent this from happening to another family.”