Sheldon Brenner Obtains Not Guilty Verdict for Defendant Physician in Wrongful Death Case

On December 9th, 2005, a jury in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, entered a not guilty verdict in favor of the defendant physician, a specialist in Family Practice. The deceased, a morbidly obese 35 year old woman taking birth control pills, was survived by her parents and sister. She was a long-standing patient with a history of asthma. She was seen in the office with complaints of shortness of breath, dizziness and syncope after getting out of the shower. Test results indicated hypothyroidism and Synthroid was prescribed. She returned three weeks later complaining of shortness of breath and wheezing. The defendant felt this was a flare-up of asthma and prescribed Prednisone and told the patient to return in two days. The following day, the patient was found dead in her apartment. Autopsy revealed a massive pulmonary embolism. The estate contended that the defendant failed to recognize signs and symptoms of pulmonary embolism on the two office visits prior to death despite high risks, including obesity, birth control, and recent air travel. The defense asserted the lab results, history and clinical presentation justified the diagnoses. The defendant’s insurance company offered $500,000 to settle, which was rejected by the estate.