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Failure To Diagnose And Treat Ruptured Aortic Aneurysm Leading To Death

M.B., an 11-year veteran of the Navy, was seen in the Emergency Department of David Grant USAF Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base with complaints of a sudden onset of severe “burning” chest pain associated with nausea and difficulty breathing. His pain level was seven out of ten even after being given IV pain medication. He was diagnosed as suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (“GERD”), given more pain medication (Darvocet) and “heartburn” medication (Zantac), and advised to go to the Family Practice Clinic in three days. Following doctors’ orders, he reported to Family Practice where he was diagnosed with “anxiety” and given a prescription for anti-depressant medication (Zantac). Because he continued to complain of chest pain going from his back “up into his neck,” a CT scan was scheduled for two weeks later. Unfortunately, MB died in front of his minor children as he was preparing to take them to school the next morning.

M.B. was suffering from a dissection (or separation) of the major blood vessel that carried blood from his heart to the rest of his body. Had his true condition been diagnosed by the ER doctor or the Family Practice physician when they saw him, his surgical emergency could have been diagnosed by a CT scan and treated with surgery giving him a normal life expectancy; he would have seen his little girls grow up and enjoyed the life he planned with his wife.

M.B.’s wife and daughters now live in the house they were able to purchase with some of the money that was paid in a settlement reached with the U.S. Air Force Claims Service without the need to file suit in federal court.

Note: The example above are some of the military medical malpractice cases we have handled in the past. Case outcomes and results depend upon many factors that are unique to each case. Past results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case undertaken by Swartz & Reed. These examples merely provide a framework for understanding the kinds of cases we undertake.