A $1.8 million medical malpractice claim was paid last week following a jury’s verdict in late June that a doctor misdiagnosed a 25-year-old woman’s heart condition — causing her to need a heart transplant.
In a trial in Newport News Circuit Court, a jury awarded to Leslie Thorne a $4 million verdict against Dr. David Glick, who works for a group of emergency room doctors who once provided services at Mary Immaculate Hospital.
The judgment was later reduced to $1.8 million because of caps on medical damages in Virginia, said William E. Artz, Thorne’s Arlington attorney. An insurance firm paid the claim, he said.
Thorne initially sued three doctors — Glick, as well as William Hunter and Andrew B. Cole, both of Peninsula Emergency Physicians — claiming they were all negligent.
On June 11, 2005 — nearly four months after delivering a baby — Thorne went to the emergency room at Sentara Port Warwick with complaints of shortness of breath, coughing and chest pain. X-rays showed an enlarged heart, Artz said, but an emergency room doctor, Cole, said it was bronchitis and gave her an antibiotic.
A few weeks later, on July 5, a second doctor at Sentara Port Warwick, Hunter, said it was a virus and gave her an anti-nausea prescription, Artz said.
Eight days later, on July 13, the problems began to worsen.
Thorne went to the emergency room at Mary Immaculate Hospital, again complaining of chest pain and shortness of breath. She had swelling in her legs, an enlarged heart and an abnormal electrocardiogram, Artz said.
But Glick diagnosed Thorne with having hepatitis based on high liver enzymes. He gave her a prescription and told her to see her primary care physician.
Finally, on July 18 — five weeks after she first began having complaints — doctors at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore determined Thorne had a rare heart condition caused by childbirth. She later received a heart transplant. If Thorne had been properly diagnosed earlier, Artz said, she could have been treated with medicine and wouldn’t have needed a transplant. Thorne will likely need another heart transplant in the future, he said, and needs to take medicine the rest of her life.
During the trial, an expert defense witness testified that Hunter and Cole acted properly, but hedged on Glick. Because a mistrial could have resulted if the same attorney represented all three doctors, Artz withdrew the suit against Hunter and Cole and proceeded only against Glick.
Defense experts contended there were reasons to support Glick’s hepatitis diagnosis, and some “tell-tale” signs of heart failure were lacking. The defense also said that by the time Glick got involved, a heart transplant was needed, even if his diagnosis were proper.
The jury deliberated for about three hours before arriving at a verdict, Artz said.
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