Heart attack death spurs medical malpractice claim

By Jon Campisi | Jun 14, 2011

The daughter of a man who died from a heart attack is suing the doctors who treated him, alleging that their inaction directly led to her father’s death.

Philadelphia attorney E. Merritt Lentz, of the firm Golkow Hessel, LLC, filed the medical malpractice lawsuit June 10 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on behalf of city resident Sarah Hines, whose father, Philadelphia resident Joseph J. Hines, III, died in October 2009.

Named as defendants are doctors Richard A. Paulis and Michelle A. Fish, as well as Aria Health-Frankford Campus, (formerly Frankford Hospital), Aria Health, Aria Health System and Aria Health Physician Services.

According to the complaint, Joseph Hines first began experiencing chest pains in mid October 2009, at which time the then-49-year-old was taken to the emergency department at Aria-Frankford.

Hines was subsequently evaluated by Fish, the lawsuit states, whose medical considerations included, “bronchitis, asthma, musculoskeletal pain and MI,” or myocardial infarction. Dr. Paulis agreed with the findings.

Hines spent three hours at the hospital that day, the lawsuit states, after which he left with a prescription for 25 mg. of Benadryl. He had received a preliminary diagnosis of “chest pain (other)” and a secondary diagnosis of “muscle spasm.”

During his three-hours in emergency care, the suit states, Hines was not ordered to undergo a cardiology consultation, he was not given a low-level stress test, he was not given a cardiac catheterization, and he was not given a coronary arteriogram to rule out myocardial infarction, also known as heart attack.

On Oct. 20, 2009, four days after leaving the emergency room, Hines was discovered unresponsive in his bed at home after suffering a massive heart attack. According to the Philadelphia Medical Examiner, Hines’ cause of death was “arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease,” the lawsuit states.

The complaint accuses the defendants of not properly diagnosing and treating the decedent’s ailments, something that is alleged ultimately led to his death.

The lawsuit contains counts of negligence, corporate negligence and wrongful death. There is also a survival action count that says Hines’ estate has been deprived economic value because of his death.

For each count, the plaintiff demands judgment against the defendants jointly and severally in an amount in excess of $50,000, plus interest, delay damages and other related court costs.

The plaintiff has demanded a jury trial. The case awaits listing.

The case number is 110600727.

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