Family Awarded Compensation After Hospital Sends Home Woman Having Fatal Heart Attack

| by Maura Turcotte

After sending home a woman while she was having a fatal heart attack, a hospital in Ohio now owes her family thousands of dollars.

In April 2012, Ella Whitehead of Maryland was involved in a car crash. Complaining of chest pains after the incident, the 65-year-old woman was taken to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for tests, according to court documents cited by Court News Ohio.

However, while awaiting the results of those tests, doctors sent Whitehead home, her relatives told the court, despite her persistent complaints of chest pains.

A doctor took notice of Whitehead’s test results, though, and had his staff try to contact her the next morning to advise her to immediately visit a hospital. Despite their efforts, the doctor and his staff could not reach Whitehead.

That very same day, Whitehead was found dead in her home.

Whitehead’s family filed a lawsuit against the hospital, claiming wrongful death.

While the defense team for the hospital claimed that the Maryland woman suffered from heart issues before the incident, the attorneys for Whitehead’s family argued that the doctors neglected the 65-year-old woman and failed to give her standard and acceptable care. Even while waiting for the test results, Whitehead should not have been sent home, the attorneys stated, because she had an abnormal electrocardiogram and had also repeatedly complained of pains in her chest.

On July 28 -- three years after Whitehead’s death -- the case has finally been settled. While OSU Wexner Medical Center does not admit liability in the settlement, the hospital will award the family $275,000 in compensation. In exchange, Whitehead’s relatives will file no further claims against the hospital.

Health Day recently reported that, according to a recent study, heart attacks affect the life expectancies of women and blacks more so than the life expectancies of white males. After suffering from a heart attack, women on average lost about 10.5 percent more of their life expectancy than men. Blacks lost about 6 percent more of their life expectancy than whites.

Photo Source: OSU, Michael Tam/Flickr