Jury awards $5.39 million to family in suit over medical negligence
The family of a Seattle man who was sent away from an emergency room with acid-reflux medicine and died days later from an untreated condition...
Seattle Times staff reporter
The family of a Seattle man who was sent away from an emergency room with acid-reflux medicine and died days later from an untreated condition was awarded $5.39 million by a jury.
The jury said Dr. Grace Dy, who treated the 30-year-old man at Swedish Medical Center four days before he died, was guilty of medical negligence. The award was decided on Tuesday.
Tri Hoang — an active man who enjoyed judo, kendo and hiking — went to the emergency room on Aug. 17, 2004, after collapsing at his home and experiencing chest pain, said Felix Luna, the Hoang family's attorney.
At the hospital, Dy prescribed acid-reflux medication to Hoang and sent him home an hour later, Luna said. When Hoang visited his regular doctor at the University of Washington-Belltown clinic two days later, he was diagnosed with a heart infection.
The computer-systems engineer died two days later from what was later discovered to be an aortic rupture, a tear in the heart's major artery.
"Nobody had any clue that he had a life-threatening problem, and there was profound sadness when he died," Luna said.
Hoang's sister, Marie, filed a suit against Dy and the UW clinic, claiming Hoang's death "was preventable had proper, timely health care been provided to him."
After a monthlong trial, the jury agreed Dy was at fault, but said the UW clinic was not.
Among the damages, the family received more than $1 million for lost earnings and $2.5 million for lost stock holdings, according to court documents. Hoang's brother, Joseph, was determined to be financially dependent on Hoang and got $1.5 million.
"Obviously we're disappointed in the jury's verdict," said Dy's lawyer, David Martin of Smart Lee.
Dy, who worked as a contracted physician at Swedish for about six years, had recommended that Hoang follow up with his regular doctor, Martin said.
Dy also worked at Overlake Hospital Medical Center and was a chief resident at Detroit Receiving Hospital, her attorney said.
"She's a fine physician," Martin said. "This is one of those unfortunate situations."
The state Department of Health investigated Dy's actions and found that they fell "within the standard of care." The case was closed in April 2006.
There are no records of disciplinary action for Dy.
Christina Siderius: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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