Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Cardiologist found liable for prescribing Coumadin

A cardiologist reportedly prescribed a patient a drug called Coumadin. Coumadin is occasionally prescribed to cardiac patients to prevent blood clotting. Unfortunately, approximately three weeks after the drug was prescribed, the patient was found unconscious and bleeding just shortly before she died.

The cardiologist was tried for medical malpractice, and it was alleged that doctor and prescription errors occurred when he failed to monitor the patient closely after the Coumadin was prescribed. The cardiologist apparently only tested the woman's blood once, and then he failed to test it in subsequent weeks - though he was given the opportunity to test it on other occasions.

Experts at the trial, though disagreeing as to whether the cardiologist was responsible for the woman's death, nevertheless warned that Coumadin was a powerful drug that should be administered carefully. The jury in this matter agreed with the plaintiff's attorney conclusion that the cardiologist's treatment of his patient led to her death. Apparently, the timing of the woman's death suggested problems in the way the medication was prescribed.

Such a verdict was understandable when one is told how the woman's death came about. Here, a woman was found unconscious and bleeding just a few weeks after being prescribed a certain medication. Coumadin is a drug used to thin the blood and since the drug was designed to prevent clotting, it was foreseeable that uncontrolled bleeding could also result under certain circumstances.

Though the lawsuit did not occur in Pittsburgh, it's easy to believe that a jury could come up with a similar verdict if the case had been tried here.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Malpractice verdict for SF cardiologist," by Bob Egelko, September 14, 2012

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