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Lawsuit Alleges X-ray Misreading, Delays

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Allegations of misread X-rays and delays in passing along information from a radiologist have marked a lawsuit resulting from a tragic death almost six years ago. A verdict that found a physician assistant not negligent has finally ended the case—possibly.

Or possibly not. Riadh “Robert” Katy, the widower of the woman who died, told the McDowell News newspaper that he was upset with the verdict:

The hospital paid a lot of money for them to win this case. I believe it’s because I am not American. They are jealous we are educated and we stick together as a family. I don’t trust people anymore. Every doctor is responsible for the death of my wife, and I am not done with them.

According to the lawsuit, on February 9, 2008, Aziza Katy gave birth to twins at McDowell Hospital in Marion, North Carolina. She was diagnosed with pneumonia, given medication, and discharged.

On February 15 and February 22, she returned to the emergency room, complaining of shortness of breath. Chest X-rays were taken each time, and she was sent home, still diagnosed with pneumonia. The lawsuit said the radiologist who read the February 15 X-ray missed an enlarged heart and other signs of cardiac problems.

A radiologist read the February 22 X-ray on February 25 (because the hospital did not have a radiologist on duty over the weekend). He noted “probable worsening congestive heart failure” and suggested that Aziza see her doctor. Aziza didn’t receive that message until February 27 or 28, according to the lawsuit. She couldn’t get an immediate appointment and returned to the emergency room on March 1.

She was admitted to the hospital that day. On March 7, she suffered a stroke. She died on March 23. The death certificate listed the cause as “Intracranial Hemorrhage, due to or as a consequence of Embolic Stroke, due to or as a consequence of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy.”

The lawsuit originally named Asheville Radiology Associates, as well as several other entities and individuals. All settled except for two doctors and physician assistant John David Riser. After a 2011 trial, a jury absolved the doctors but returned a $667,000 verdict against Riser. He appealed. A new trial, which ended this October, also acquitted Riser.

Robert Katy is raising the couple’s four children: Joseph, now 10; Sarah, 7; and twins Adam and Ryan, 5.

Related CME seminar (up to 17 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™): Emergency Radiology

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