Failure to Diagnose Cerebral Aneurysm Results in Woman’s Death

A woman was taken to the emergency room complaining of incapacitating head pain of sudden onset. She was diagnosed with “cephalgia [headache] probably vascular.” She was given shots for pain and nausea and was sent home, even though she repeatedly asked to be admitted to the hospital. She had a family history of aneurysms. Later that same day, she was seen at the Clinic. The doctor noted that she had a sudden onset of severe headache. She was given pain medication and muscle relaxers and was told to recheck if symptoms increase in severity. She was seen by the Doctor who diagnosed her with TMJ Arthritis, Cephalgia probably related to cervical arthritis and hypertension.

The patient reported that she was worried about aneurysm because her daughter and brother had aneurysm. He ordered blood pressure medication, told her to have neck x-rays taken and recheck in two weeks. She returned for recheck. The Doctor changed her blood pressure medication and told her to recheck in two months. She collapsed at her home two weeks later and died. She donated her body to science and the cause of her cerebral bleed was not stated in the hospital record. Counsel investigated and learned that her brain was preserved and obtained an autopsy of the brain prior to litigation. The autopsy revealed a classic cerebral aneurysm.

Outcome:

A settlement was reached. The terms of the settlement are protected by a confidentiality agreement.