Jury Awards $6.4 Million for Heart Attack Misdiagnosis

ER doctors misdiagnosed heart condition, released man with Motrin and antibiotic


June 4, 2012

June 4, 2012 — A jury awarded $6.4 million to the young children of a Philadelphia man after finding that emergency room doctors misdiagnosed a heart condition as pneumonia and discharged him from the hospital, only for him to die months later.

After seven days of testimony, the jury found that Robert M. McNamara, M.D., Marsha W. Edwards, M.D. and Temple University Hospital were negligent in the care of Derrick Harlem, 38. The verdict is believed to be among the largest Pennsylvania medical malpractice awards involving a death in years. Jurors reached the verdict three years to the day after Harlem's misdiagnosed heart condition.

"This is a fair and just verdict," said Matthew Casey, a founding partner at Ross Feller Casey, LLP, who litigated the case on behalf of Harlem's children. "These young children lost their dad and no amount of money can replace him. They would gladly give the money back for more time with their dad."

On May 31, 2009, Harlem passed out while playing basketball and was transported to the Temple University Hospital’s emergency department. Despite symptoms consistent with a heart attack, Harlem was diagnosed with pneumonia and released later that day after being given Motrin and Azithromycin.

Three months later, Harlem again passed out while playing basketball and was again taken to Temple's emergency department. This time, he had suffered a massive heart attack as a result of what had become a complete arterial blockage. Harlem remained in a pharmacologically induced coma until his death Nov. 12, 2009. He left behind five children, now ages 3-11.

The verdict includes $5.5 million for the loss of guidance, tutelage and moral upbringing.

For more information: www.rossfellercasey.com/practice-areas/medical-malpractice/