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250,000 Medical Malpractice Verdict Against Ambulance Company for Mishandling Patient’s Impending Heart Attack Resulting in Heart Damage
Our client, Clyde Christy, was attending a company picnic in the North Hills of Pittsburgh when he started to develop chest pain. The Cranberry Ambulance was called, responded to the scene, and began transporting Ms. Christy to Passavant Hospital. In route to the hospital, the ambulance crew called the emergency department at Passavant Hospital and described Mr. Christy's symptoms. Emergency room physicians at the hospital, suspecting Mr. Christy was suffering, or about to suffer, a myocardial infarction, or heart attack, directed the ambulance crew to administer Nitroglycerin to Mr. Christy. Nitroglycerin is a medication vital to maintaining coronary blood flow in the face of heart attack until surgical intervention, such as stenting or coronary bypass grafting, can be performed. The ambulance crew, in what can only be described as childlike behavior, became involved in a dispute as to who was in charge of the emergency response, Mr. Christy's care and what the proper protocol should be. As a consequence of this dispute, the crew failed to follow the physician's instructions, arguing over whether Mr. Christy was having a heart attack and whether the medication should be administered. As a result, Nitroglycerin was never administered to Mr. Christy. When Mr. Christy arrived at the hospital, it was determined that he had suffered a large myocardial infarction (heart attack) causing a permanent loss of one-third of his heart function.
We filed a medical malpractice case on behalf of our client against the Emergency Response members and the Cranberry Ambulance Company in Allegheny County. Required to prove gross negligence under Pennsylvania's Emergency Medical Service Act, we prevailed. The case was tried to verdict and the jury issued an award $250,000. Christy v. Cranberry Volunteer Ambulance Corp., 579 Pa. 404, 856 A.2d 43 (2004). The Defendants' appealed the verdict, but we were successful in upholding the award for our client.