Wife sues hospital for heart condition she developed after the sudden death of her husband

By Holland Phillips | Oct 12, 2013

Mark W. Smith

NEW ORLEANS—A woman who developed a heart condition due to the sudden death of her husband is suing the doctors responsible for his care for failing to diagnose his condition sooner.

Nancy Smith individually and as surviving spouse of Henry Smith, Beth Smith Incardona, Gretchen Smith McAlpine, and Mark W. Smith filed suit against Jefferson Parish Hospital Service, District no. 2, East Jefferson General Hospital, Gulf Emergency Management, APMC, Louisiana Medical Mutual Insurance Company (LAMMICO), Dr. Michael Ng, Dr. Robert Normand, Dr. Dan Fertel, Dr. Kundan L. Gupta, and Dr. David Myers in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court on Aug. 13.

The plaintiffs are filing a wrongful death petition for survivor damages and physical injury in connection with the death of Henry W. Smith.

According to the suit, in May 2010, Henry Smith began experiencing abdominal pain and distention and sought treatment at the East Jefferson emergency room, where he was treated by Dr. Ng and Dr. Fertel. A CT scan allegedly showed an abdominal wall hernia with small intestinal obstruction and a low density lesion on the liver. East Jefferson Hospital began experiencing electrical problems, which were reportedly not fixed until that afternoon.

According to the suit, Henry Smith was referred to Dr. Normand for surgical consult. In the absence of his regular physician, Dr. Myers, Smith also claims he saw Dr. Gupta, who then admitted Smith to the hospital. Dr. Normand performed the hernia surgery. After he was released from the hospital, he says he began experiencing significant problems including diarrhea, weight loss, and severe pain. He returned to the emergency room in December 2010 where he was diagnosed with incarcerated ventral hernia and partial small obstruction. After an oncology consult, it was determined that Henry Smith’s condition was terminal due to advanced and metastatic cancer, which resulted in his death on Jan. 1, 2011, the suit claims.

The defendant, Dr. Ng, is accused of failure to act in light of his knowledge that there was a low density mass on Henry Smith’s liver, violating the standard of care for doctors practicing emergency medicine.

Dr. Normand is accused of failing to review the report of the liver lesion finding and failing to take action on that finding. Dr. Gupta is accused of failing to review the medical charts for Smith and the report of Dr. Fertel. Dr. Fertel and Dr. Myers are accused of violating the standard of care for failing to advise the other doctors as to his findings. In addition, East Jefferson Hospital, which experienced an electrical and air conditioning system malfunction allegedly prevented and/or hindered Dr. Fertel from properly notifying the other doctors of Smith’s condition.

An undisclosed amount is sought for the injuries to Nancy Smith, who began suffering a ventricular apical ballooning of her heart subsequent to the death of her husband. This condition, which is allegedly not caused by ischemic artery disease, is known as takotsubo cardiomyopathy and is “most commonly seen in post menopausal women who have suffered the sudden loss of a loved one such as a spouse of many years.”

The plaintiff is represented by Mark W. Smith of Mark W. Smith & Associates.

The case has been assigned to Division L Judge Kern A. Reese.

Case no. 2013-07609.

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