$2.3 million award to heart patient in wrong diagnosis Heart attack not detected in man, now disabled.

June 25, 1991|By Sue Miller | Sue Miller,Evening Sun Staff

Three days before Thanksgiving 1986, Jay H. Mandell -- a 43-year-old Pikesville business executive -- was struck by severe chest pain as he drove home from work. The pain radiated to his left arm and was so excruciating that he was forced to pull off the road.

Within the next two days, two doctors told Mandell, the owner of an office and building maintenance company, not to worry. They gave him antacid pills. They said he had indigestion.

On Thanksgiving Day, after repeated calls reporting his worsening condition to his physician, Dr. Stephen Glasser, Mandell drove himself to Sinai Hospital. The diagnosis: a massive heart attack.

Mandell survived. But, about a year later, he had bypass surgery at the Washington Hospital Medical Center and the removal of an aneurysm -- a life-threatening bubble -- from his heart.

Yesterday, a city Circuit Court jury awarded Mandell, who is disabled and not expected to work again, $2.3 million in damages. It found Glasser and the Coller, Druskin, Oroszlan and Glasser professional association negligent in failing to diagnose Mandell's blossoming heart attack.

The jury deliberated Friday evening and yesterday before delivering its verdict before Judge John N. Prevas, who heard the case over nine days.

In finding negligence on the part of Glasser and the physicians' association of which he was a member, the jury reversed an earlier ruling by a state Health Claims Arbitration Board panel that said there was no medical malpractice on the part of any of the doctors involved.

"There was ample opportunity to have prevented this [heart attack]" said Marvin Ellin, the attorney who represented Mandell. "This is a very sad case. The evidence was that Mandell wanted to see Glasser, but Glasser told him it wasn't necessary, Glasser never examined him, Glasser never saw him before he spent him to a specialist for an endoscopy."

An endoscopy is a test to rule out an inflammation of the esophagus, which also can cause chest pain. The esophagus is the tube that carries food to the stomach.

Mandell felt so bad that he first tried to see Glasser without an appointment, according to the suit. Dr. Kenneth Zonies, an associate who also was sued by Mandell, offered to examine him. When Mandell agreed, the doctor did an electrocardiogram, which was negative, and told him his pain was due to an inflammation of the esophagus.

But Mandell believed his condition was deteriorating and told Glasser, who called him shortly afterward, that he wanted to be hospitalized. Glasser kept assuring him "nothing was wrong" and said he was sending him to Dr. Gerald Hoskin for an endoscopy, Ellin said. Mandell had the endoscopy Nov. 26. The next day he had the heart attack.

James R. Chason, the attorney for Glasser and the physicians' association, said the jury's finding "will definitely" be appealed to the state's special court of appeals.

He further said there were "some errors" in the instructions given by Prevas to the jury on the effects of Hoskin not participating in the trial.

"We believe that encouraged the jury to find against the other defendants," Chason said. Earlier, Hoskin had filed a motion to be removed from the case on the basis that his case was distinct from that of the two defendants.

Chason further said that in the Circuit Court later this week he will file a post-trial motion to reduce the $1 million jury award for non-economic damage to conform with a state cap of $350,000.

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