Wrongful-death trial nears end

Crofton woman alleges misdiagnosis of husband's heart condition in 1997

September 08, 2002|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Attorneys for an elderly Crofton woman and her three adult children who filed a medical negligence and wrongful-death lawsuit against doctors at Potomac Physicians in Annapolis, gave closing arguments in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court on Friday.

The jury in the case, which is being heard in the courtroom of Judge David S. Bruce, will reconvene tomorrow. The plaintiffs are seeking about $500,000 for medical expenses plus other damages.

In their complaint, Louise M. Hosey, 82, and her children charge that Potomac Physicians and two staff physicians failed to recognize and diagnose the condition of Walter J. Hosey Sr., her husband, when he arrived at the urgent care center April 8, 1997, complaining of chest pains.

Hosey died eight months later of complications of a massive heart attack he suffered April 11, 1997.

Drs. James W. Ruppel and Stephen E. Killian, who work at Potomac Physicians, formerly Patuxent Medical Group Urgent Care Center, at 180 Admiral Cochran Drive, Annapolis, were singled out in the lawsuit because they examined Hosey. Ruppel and Killian also are listed as staff physicians at Anne Arundel Medical Center.

Lawyers for the two doctors and Potomac Physicians, which operates 10 clinics in the Baltimore-Washington area, denied their clients did anything wrong when they examined Hosey.

Thomas V. Monahan Jr., an attorney for Killian and for Potomac Physicians, said that Hosey told doctors that he "felt like he had indigestion." Monahan said that doctors had a "thorough history" of their patient and "ruled out" a possible heart attack. Monahan said that Hosey had "normal vital signs" an hour before his heart attack.

James P. Gleason Jr., an attorney for the plaintiffs, offered a different account of Hosey's experience with Potomac Physicians. He said that on Hosey's first visit to the clinic, April 8, 1997, doctors performed an electrocardiogram that showed Hosey's heartbeat was abnormal. Hosey was given Zantac, a prescription medicine for acid reflux, and sent home.

According to the plaintiffs' attorneys, Hosey returned to the clinic two days later, again complaining of chest pain. The doctor who examined Hosey that time didn't have access to a complete medical chart for Hosey and suggested that his symptoms were possibly due to stress or depression.

On April 11, Hosey was taken by ambulance to Anne Arundel Medical Center, where he suffered a heart attack. He underwent emergency coronary bypass and valve replacement surgery at Washington Hospital Center on April 12. After the operation, Hosey suffered a stroke. He spent the next eight months in the hospital or in a nursing home. He died Dec. 10, 1997, at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore.

Attorneys for the two doctors and Potomac Physicians argued that the doctors had followed proper procedures and had made reasonable diagnoses when they examined Hosey.

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