verdicts-and-settlements-article

Sanchez v. Harrisburg Avenue Radiology

Defense Verdict

Date of Verdict: Jan. 8.

Court and Case No.:  C.P. Lancaster County, No. CU-13-04878.

Judge:  Jeffery D. Wright.

Type of Action: Medical malpractice.

Injuries: Allergic reaction, cardiac injuries.

Plaintiffs Counsel: Anita L. Pitock, Lowenthal & Abrams, Bala Cynwyd.

Plaintiffs Experts: Dr. Edward Julie, cardiology; Clifton, New Jersey;  Dr. Elizabeth Angelakis, radiology; Burlington, Massachusettes.

Defense Counsel: Denise L. Juliana, Young & McGilvery, King of Prussia.

Defense Experts: Eric Rubin, radiology, Upland; Gary Vigilante, cardiology, Philadelphia.

Comment:

In February 2012, plaintiff Gladys Sanchez, 47, had a CT scan with contrast-material dye performed by radiologist Jeffrey Stiles at Lancaster Regional Imaging Associates, in Lancaster. The scan had been ordered by Sanchez’s otolaryngologist, or ear, nose, and throat specialist, after a nodule had been detected in her neck. During the CT scan, Sanchez suffered anaphylactic shock and stopped breathing. She had suffered an allergic reaction to the contrast material, a known side-effect of the procedure. When Sanchez went into shock, Stiles administered three 1-milligram doses of epinephrine, or adrenaline, diluted with saline. After the third dose, Sanchez began breathing on her own. She was taken by ambulance to an emergency room, where it was believed that she had suffered a heart attack.

Sanchez sued Stiles, alleging negligence in administering improper doses of epinephrine, which resulted in her having a myocardial infarction.

Sanchez also sued Lancaster Regional Imaging Associates and Harrisburg Avenue Radiology Associates Inc., which were later determined to be separate names for the same entity, which was dismissed, prior to trial.

Sanchez’s expert in radiology maintained that the epinephrine doses Stiles administered were excessive, even though they were diluted with saline. The expert cited medical literature that states that the 1/1000 concentration that was given should only be administered intramuscularly, not by IV injection.

Stiles’ expert in radiology opined that the amount of epinephrine he administered was appropriate and in fact saved Sanchez’s life. The expert pointed out that the dosages were diluted and were not given via direct IV injection.

According to the expert, despite what the medical literature dictates, the guidelines are to be modified depending on a situation, and Stiles acted appropriately in response to Sanchez’s near fatal allergic reaction.

At the emergency room, Sanchez’s cardiac enzymes were elevated and an echocardiogram was suggestive of a possible heart attack. She was admitted, given medication, and underwent monitoring.

Four days later. Sanchez was discharged. She continued to be monitored by a cardiologist and began taking preventive cardiac medication, both of which she will do for the rest of her life. She sought to recover a medical lien of approximately $11,000.

Sanchez’s expert in cardiology cited Sanchez’s increased cardiac enzymes and echocardiogram at the emergency room to opine that she had suffered a myocardial infarction.

Sanchez testified that she continues to have shortness of breath and fatigue, and is afraid of having another attack. She sought damages for past and future pain and suffering. Sanchez’s husband testified that they no longer do activities as a couple, such as biking. He sought damages for a claim of loss of consortium.

Stiles’ expert in cardiology argued that Sanchez did not suffer a heart attack. The expert based his opinion on a follow-up echocardiogram taken weeks later, which showed no damage to Sanchez’s heart. Had she suffered a myocardial infarction, there would be visible damage to her heart, and there was not, the expert concluded.

The jury rendered a defense verdict.

This report is based on information that was provided by defense counsel. Plaintiffs cousnel did not respond to calls for comment.

—This report first appeared in VerdictSearch, an ALM publication