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Lawsuit Cites Imaging Delay In Doctor’s Death

February 13, 2014
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Emergency Radiology, Neuroradiology
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A delay of a day and a half in ordering a head scan was a crucial factor in allowing a young woman’s condition to decline “from one that was easily and completely correctable to a full-blown, life-threatening medical emergency,” according to a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Peter and Patricia Sidari of West Pittston, Pennsylvania, filed the lawsuit last month in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Their 26-year-old daughter, Jennifer, an aspiring pediatrician, died of a blood clot in her brain just 18 days after she had graduated from medical school.

The lawsuit says negligence and short staffing over the Memorial Day holiday contributed to Sidari’s death. The suit says she came to Geisinger Wyoming Valley medical center in Wilkes-Barre on May 26, 2013—Sunday of the holiday weekend. The family’s attorney, Matt Casey of Philadelphia,  said essential elements of her treatment were delayed:

Essentially, everything that should have happened for the most part didn’t occur until Tuesday, when everybody got back to work.

Casey was quoted by the Times-Leader newspaper of Wilkes-Barre.

The suit says Sidari came to the medical center after more than 10 days of severe headaches. She also had been bruising easily. But, the lawsuit says, the doctors and other staff failed to properly take her medical history or order head imaging.

On Tuesday, May 28, the lawsuit says, a CT head scan was finally ordered, and medical center personnel noted that Sidari was using a hormonal vaginal ring contraceptive, NuvaRing, “which is known to be associated with an increased risk of, and to predispose female patients to, clotting.”

Geisinger has responded with a legal filing suggesting that Sidari had a pre-existing condition and that the family can’t bring a claim because of a statute of limitations, according to the Abington Journal of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. The filing also denies that she received substandard care.

“To the contrary,” the filing says, “the medical services provided to Jennifer Sidari M.D. were in all respects rendered in a timely and appropriate fashion and in accordance with the accepted standard of medical care in the community.”

When, eventually, the clot was discovered, it could not be broken up because Geisinger Wyoming Valley had no interventional radiologist available, the lawsuit says. Sidari was taken to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania, where she died.

It was the hospital where she was to have begun her pediatric residency in July.

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