The family of a 50-year-old woman who died after suffering a heart attack in an Intermountain Health Care clinic has sued the clinic and her attending physician.
Survivors of Mary Jane Dow Lavery claim IHC personnel and a doctor in the Riverton Family Practice failed to provide timely and appropriate medical care.Lavery, who was not insured, went to the clinic Jan. 23, 1995, complaining of a sudden onset of pain behind her left shoulder blade, hot and cold spells, body aches and a sore throat, according to the lawsuit filed in 3rd District Court.
An examination revealed she was cold and clammy. The doctor ordered tests and while Lavery waited for the results, she suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed to the floor. Clinic personnel and the attending physician attributed her collapse to a seizure, although Lavery had no medical history of seizures, the lawsuit states.
Neither the doctor nor any other clinic employees administered CPR but did try to insert an airway for oxygen. Arriving emergency medical technicians did administer CPR. Lavery died two days later at Jordan Valley Hospital when her heart stopped.
The lawsuit says the doctor and clinic personnel should have treated Lavery for symptoms of cardiac ischemia when she first complained of back and shoulder pain. They also should have recognized her collapse as a cardiac arrest.
Survivors seek at least $20,000 in damages and any other relief a court thinks is appropriate.
IHC spokesman Jess Gomez said an internal investigation of the incident found clinic personnel responded appropriately. An independent review by a state pre-litigation panel also found the claim had no merit. The panel is composed of an attorney/nurse, a physician, a hospital administrator and a lay person.
"Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was appropriately used in this situation. However, even though appropriate treatment was applied, CPR is not always successful," Gomez said.