At trial, the deceased patient’s parents described how their daughter was raising two children and putting herself through school at night.

The plaintiffs’ attorney then called on an expert family-care physician, who testified that DVT  constitutes an emergency. “If Ms. T had been immediately informed of her condition and put on anticoagulants at once, the pulmonary embolism would have been avoided,” he explained to the jury.

“Ms. T should not have died from this—not when there was evidence of DVT and that evidence could have been acted on,” the expert concluded.


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The plaintiffs’ lawyer then called Mr. N to the stand.

“Did you receive a phone call from Dr. C informing you of your patient’s dangerous condition?”

“No,” replied the NP.

“Did anyone at the HMO receive such a call? A voice mail?”

“No.”

“When there is a positive finding on a Doppler ultrasound, what generally happens?” the attorney asked.

“I am immediately notified by the radiologist, by phone.”

“And did that happen in this case?”

“No.”

“Did you receive notification about the Doppler finding in any other way?”

“Yes—we received a fax from Dr. C.”

“Did you act on this fax?”

“Unfortunately, we did not see it until after it was too late.”

“You didn’t check your fax tray?”

“It was overlooked.”