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Monday, March 1, 2010

Jury Awards Medical Malpractice Victim's Family $1.25 Million

The Fairfax County, Virginia jury had initially awarded the family just under $3 million, but Virginia's cap on medical malpractice awards required that the amount be cut by more than half. Right before the case went to trial, the Fairfax anesthesiology group involved in the case offered to pay $600,000 to the victim's family; obviously, that amount was declined and the case went before a jury.

Hector Alvarez, a 52-year-old man from Springfield died after his esophagus tore while he was swallowing a piece of steak. The jury found an Alexandria radiologist liable for misdiagnosing the Mr. Alvarez' condition as a hiatal hernia. In July 2006, the Mr. Alvarez went to Inova HealthPlex at Franconia-Springfield complaining of chest pains and difficulty swallowing after eating steak and having a piece lodge in his throat. Mr. Alvarez explained the feeling as the steak "going down the wrong way."

While at the medical center, he was given a battery of tests including x-rays, an EKG and a CT scan of his chest. The tests were sent to radiologist, William J. Dunwoody III, who was working that night at Inova Alexandria Hospital. His notes indicated that Mr. Alvarez was suffering from a "large hiatal hernia." Alvarez was treated with oral medications, but his pain did not lessen.

Several hours later, around midnight, he was rushed by ambulance to Inova Fairfax Hospital and doctors continued to search for the cause of his severe chest pain. At 4:00 p.m. the next day, a surgeon noticed a perforated esophagus on the CT scan and ordered that Mr. Alvarez be taken into the OR immediately to repair his torn esophagus. The patient was to be given an epidural catheter to provide pain medication post-surgery. After the catheter was placed and anesthetic applied, Mr. Alvarez suffered cardiac arrest. The cardiac arrest was attributed to his extreme weakened state from having a perforated esophagus for nearly 24 hours. The surgery to repair the torn esophagus was never performed; he suffered irreparable brain damage following the cardiac arrest.

Mr. Alvarez was retired from the Air Force and was an information technology specialist for the Defense Information Systems Agency; he was married with two adult children. His family and friends described him as an "incredibly nice guy."

If you have lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Though no amount of money will bring your loved one back or ease your pain, the medical professionals responsible for the loss of your loved one must be held accountable. Please contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at The Cochran Firm, with offices nationwide, today to schedule a confidential, no-cost consultation.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 9:31 AM

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