Pulmonary Embolism Misdiagnosis Lawsuit Results in $7.7m Malpractice Verdict

A Philadelphia jury has awarded $7.7 million to the family of a woman who died from a pulmonary embolism, which doctors allegedly failed to diagnose and treat. 

The verdict stems from a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by the family of Ingrid Clark, suffered a pulmonary embolism that caused her death in 2012. According to allegations raised at trial, staff at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital failed to conduct proper testing that would have identified the lethal blood clot.

Clark was admitted to the hospital after she passed out. According to the complaint, she had been in a wheelchair since falling while skiing two months before, breaking a bone in her knee and undergoing surgery.

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When she went to Jefferson University Hospital, she was treated by Drs. Alan Forstater and David Morley. Both, along with the hospital, were initially named as defendants, but Morley was removed from the case before it went to trial.

The family alleged that the blood clot that eventually led to a pulmonary embolism was misdiagnosed as tachycardia and shortness of breath. An electrocardiogram was performed, but she was diagnosed with stomach flu and dehydration and sent home the same day.

Two weeks later, Clark again suffered from dizziness, and began experiencing chest pain and vomited. She passed out and suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest. Emergency medical personnel were unable to revive her. It was determined that she died of a pulmonary embolism, which occurs when a blood clot breaks free in the body and travels to the lungs.

At trial, attorneys for the family claimed that her injury and time in the wheelchair should have been a warning sign that she may have been suffering a blood clot injury. They also claimed that the EKG readings showed signs of a pulmonary embolism risk as well, and that Clark should have undergone more tests, including chest scans, blood tests, and ultrasound. Had the additional tests been conducted, the failure to diagnose the blood clot would not have happened and Clark’s life could have been saved, the lawsuit claimed.

Defendants argued at trial that Clark’s symptoms were not indicative of a pulmonary embolism and that Clark told them she had probably eaten bad sushi.

The jury in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Clark’s husband Brian Durfy, and awarded $7.7 million in damages.

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