Evidence that a cardiologist failed to order a cardiac catheterization on a patient after a stress test indicated coronary artery disease was insufficient to support a jury’s verdict that the cardiologist was liable for the patient’s subsequent death due to a heart attack caused by a thrombus, a blood clot which blocks an artery.
The jury based its verdict on testimony by a cardiology expert that a catheterization would have revealed the extent of the patient’s arterial blockage and could have suggested different treatment options. This testimony was found by the appellate court to be far too vague to establish a legally sufficient link by which the trier of fact could conclude that the defendant's failure to order a cardiac catheterization led to the clot which caused the decedent’s massive heart attack a year and a half later.
Further, testimony also established that the decedent had a level of coronary artery disease consistent with a man of his age and even had a cardiac catheterization been performed, the extent of decedent's atherosclerosis detected would not have warranted treatment beyond the lifestyle changes that defendant had already recommended. Additionally, the alternative treatments discussed as potential options had a cardiac catheterization been performed would not have been viable options for the decedent, and that, in fact, these treatments run the risk of causing a thrombus, like the one that killed the decedent. The court reversed the jury’s verdict and dismissed the complaint. Dentes v. Mauser, 91 A.D.3d 1143 (N.Y.A.D. 3 Dept. Jan 19, 2012).