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"Man Dies from Pneumonia before Learning of Diagnosis"

by Virginia Lawyers Weekly Staff

Dolan Media Newswires


RICHMOND, VA -- $3,500,000 Verdict


The 24-year-old decedent went to the defendant doctor with chest pain and a cough. He was diagnosed with chestwall pain and prescribed a narcotic pain reliever. The decedent returned the next day with complaints of increased chest pain and spitting up blood-stained sputum. He was perspiring and vomiting in the doctor’s waiting room. He was diagnosed with upper respiratory infection and prescribed a cough syrup containing more narcotics.


That same day the decedent visited the hospital and underwent a chest X-ray. The hospital confirmed with the defendant’s office that the doctor received the results via facsimile shortly thereafter. The X-ray showed pneumonia.


However, the decedent was unaware of the new diagnosis because the X-ray results were not reviewed by the defendant doctor until two days later. Upon review of X-ray results, the doctor’s office misdialed the decedent’s phone number when trying to contact him with the diagnosis of pneumonia. No further attempts were made by the defendant to contact the patient.


Decedent’s former wife found him at home unresponsive. He died of pneumonia shortly after admission to the emergency department.


The jury verdict was reduced to the medical malpractice cap of $1.85 million.




Type of action: Medical malpractice


Injuries alleged: Death - Streptococcal pneumonia in all four lobes of lungs


Name of case: Vicky T. Westermann, Admin. of the Estate of Kenneth M. Westermann, deceased v. Arthur V. Bermisa MD and Bermisa and Bermisa MD, PLC


Court: Portsmouth Circuit Court


Case no.: CL07-2310


Date: Sept. 16, 2010


Tried before: Jury


Judge: Johnny E. Morrison


Verdict or Settlement: Verdict


Amount: $3,500,000


Attorney for plaintiff: Philip J. Geib, Virginia Beach


Attorneys for defendants: Carolyn P. Oast and Mark J. Favaloro, Virginia Beach


Plaintiff’s experts: Richard Hoffman MD; Glenn McDermott MD; Wendy Gunther MD, medical examiner

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