How is it that a young man who goes to an emergency room three days in a row with the worst headache in his life, but keeps getting discharged, ends up having a massive stroke on the third day shortly after he gets home?
That is the subject of a medical malpractice lawsuit that attorney Robert Painter filed this week against doctors at Memorial Herman Northeast Hospital, in Humble, Texas. The case is styled Manfred v. Nguyen, Cause No. 2017-42688, In the 295th District Court of Harris County, Texas, where Judge Caroline Baker is presiding.
Back in 2016, Painter Law Firms’ client, who was then 38 years old, suddenly had the worst headache of his life, as well as blurry vision, dizziness, and problems walking. His wife rushed him to Texas Emergency Care Center, in Atascocita, Texas, a free-standing emergency room. The emergency room doctor ordered a head CT, which came back fine. The doctor and nurses kept him in the emergency room for about an hour, and discharged him with prescriptions for headache pain and high blood pressure.
By the next evening, he still had the severe headache and his vision loss and gotten worse—sometimes he could not see at all. He went to the emergency room at Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital. He told the emergency room doctor, nurse practitioner, and nursing staff about his problems, which were now in their second day.
The doctor and nursing staff asked him about the CT scan from the day before, and his wife said it was normal. They had him sign a HIPAA release so they could go obtain copies of the records and CT scan from nearby Texas Emergency Care Center—but they never went and got them. Instead, the doctor decided not to order a CT or MRI, gave him new prescriptions for headache and high blood pressure medications, and sent him home.
The next morning, his headache was still there and he felt intense, unbearable pain and pressure behind his right eye. He was nauseated and was vomiting. His right eyelid was dropping, which is a significant neurological condition called ptosis.
He went back to the Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital emergency room and, for the third day in a row, told a doctor and nurses what was going on. It was not long before the doctor started talking about discharging him with more prescriptions for a headache painkillers and an anti-hypertensive. By this time, his wife was fed-up and called the hospital CEO, who was an acquaintance.
The CEO told her that his wife had gone through the same thing and there was probably nothing to worry about—it was probably just a migraine headache. The CEO said he would call a neurologist to check her husband out.
When the neurologist showed up, the patient and his wife told him about everything that had been going on over the past three days. The neurologist noted his ptosis and wrote that down in the medical record.
On this third day of worsening symptoms, the emergency room doctor ordered a CT scan. A radiologist reviewed the scan and said that there was something abnormal going on in the left side of his brain, but he could not tell what was causing it. The radiologist did not call the emergency room doctor, but did note that an MRI could be ordered if it was clinically necessary.
After the CT scan, the neurologist decided it was okay to send the patient home with—you guessed it—new prescriptions for headache pain and high blood pressure. They filled those prescriptions at a local CVS Pharmacy.
He took the medications after he got home, and within 30 minutes had a massive stroke that paralyzed the entire left side of his body and left him with speech issues. Over a year later, after long hospitalizations at Kingwood Medical Center and Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, and extensive therapy at Memorial Hermann TIRR, he still has these permanent disabilities.
As part of our careful review of this case, we hired emergency medicine, neurology, and radiology expert witnesses to review the medical records and radiology scans from all of the hospitals.
Our radiology expert said that the Memorial Hermann Northeast radiologist’s interpretation was wrong, but still yet she should have called the emergency physician to recommend an MRI. And that MRI would have likely shown an active or imminent stroke that could have been immediately treated in a way that would likely have avoided any permanent injury.
But the mistakes do not end there.
Our neurology and emergency medicine experts found that the neurologist and emergency room doctor at Memorial Hermann ignored the patient’s deteriorating neurological status, and should have ordered advanced imaging, like an MR angiogram, which would have likely led to prompt and effective treatment.
As a Houston medical malpractice lawyer, I see cases of health care negligence all the time. It is incredibly sad to see clients, like this family, who were conscientious and did everything right by timely seeking out healthcare, but still suffer from serious lifelong injuries.
We are here to help
If you or someone you care for has been seriously injured by medical negligence, malpractice, or mistakes, call the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Painter Law Firm for a free consultation about your potential case. Our telephone number is 281-580-8800.
Attorney Robert Painter is a medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm, where he handles a variety of medical malpractice cases, including misdiagnosed and mistreated strokes and other brain injuries.