The trial stemming from a wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of former Liberty Regional Medical Center chief operating room nurse Barbara Porter continues in Liberty County State Court.
Porter’s widower, Kenneth, filed the suit alleging that Dr. Stephen Weiss, Dr. Colin Badea and Dr. Traiana Pacurar did not provide the standard of care Porter deserved. The suit also alleges the trio of physicians ignored common symptoms of heart disease, solely focusing on gastric and pancreatic issues.
Porter, who had a history of gastric and pancreatic issues, diabetes and coronary disease died under the care of the three physicians July 30, 2011, at LRMC — just one day after being admitted by Weiss for severe substernal epigastric pain.
This week, several experts on behalf of the plaintiff took the stand, saying it was their opinions that the three physicians did not live up to the standard of care necessary to save Porter’s life.
They pointed to the fact that an electrocardiogram was not performed or ordered in a timely manner.
“She fell below the standard of care in failing to recognize that the concern about heart disease needed to be dealt with forthwith, right then,” Dr. Michael Yaffe, a board-certified internal-medicine physician, said during testimony Monday.
Yaffe, a graduate of Ohio State University’s College of Medicine, was specifically testifying on the consultation that Pacurar had the morning of July 30, 2011, with Porter, roughly eight hours before Porter’s death of a heart attack.
“She needed to get cardiac enzymes done, she needed to order an EKG, and she shouldn’t have left the hospital or that floor until she eyeballed that EKG herself,” Yaffe continued.
Pacurar did order a 12-lead EKG to be performed that day and requested cardiac enzymes the following day, July 31, 2011.
In earlier testimony, the plaintiff’s attorney, Craig Stafford, explained to the jurors that, “Cardiac enzyme is a test that should be done now. You don’t wait to go looking for a heart attack tomorrow. … Heart attacks kill right away. The order for the EKG says today. It does not say stat, it does not say right away, it does not say now.”
Stafford placed witnesses on the stand who said that in medical terminology, when a doctor writes up a report for an EKG today, it is understood that the test should be done during the 12-hour work shift, not immediately as the plaintiffs’ expert said was required.
The attorneys for the defendants argued at the start of the trial that Porter’s overall medical history was taken into account during her initial admittance. They argued that during her stay and up until 7 p.m. Saturday night, July 30, 2011, Porter did not exhibit any signs of acute cardiac conditions.
An EKG was eventually done on Porter at 3:38 p.m. that day, roughly 3½ hours before her death, and the results showed abnormalities, according to testimony.
Weiss’ attorney, Chris Ray, and the other defense attorneys claim that the negligent parties were staff nurses and respiratory therapists employed by LRMC.
Ray explained to the jurors that the test results were never placed in Porter’s medical chart. That meant none of the attending physicians were aware of any abnormal results nor had reason to suspect coronary issues.
The defense is expected to place their own expert witnesses on the stand once the plaintiffs rest their case. The trial was scheduled to last through at least Tuesday.