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Home > Topics > 911

Ore. woman sues hospital for diagnosing stroke as 'emotional problem'

The $3.1M lawsuit says she suffered brain damage after doctors let hours pass before treating her with clot-busting medication, and instead gave her Ativan

By Aimee Green
The Oregonian

PORTLAND, Ore.— A woman who suffered a stroke is suing St. Vincent Medical Center for $3.1 million, claiming medical staff misdiagnosed her condition as an “emotional” problem and let precious hours pass before giving her clot-busting medication.

The suit, filed last week in Multnomah County Circuit Court, states that Kristine Haveman collapsed unconscious in her home on Nov. 25, 2012. Someone promptly called 911 at 8:51 a.m., and six minutes later an ambulance arrived. Haveman arrived at St. Vincent’s at 9:17 a.m. She was unresponsive.

According to the suit, emergency-room workers ordered a CT scan, which a doctor or doctors “misinterpreted as showing no problem.” She received no clot-busting medication, which is supposed to be administered within three to 4.5 hours of the beginning of a stroke, according to the suit.

The suit states a doctor or doctors thought Haveman was having a “purely emotional” problem, and she was given the anti-anxiety medication Ativan.

Haveman’s “stroke was allowed to continue untreated until sometime after 5:00PM when her true diagnosis was made by a neurologist who expressed surprise that the CT findings had been misinterpreted,” the suit reads.

The delay caused Haveman to suffer brain damage and damage to her central nervous system. The suit, filed by Portland attorney Jane Paulson, doesn’t offer more specifics about how the stroke has affected Haveman’s life.

Haveman is seeking $100,000 for medical bills, $1 million for lost earning capacity and $2 million for pain and suffering.

A spokesman from Providence Health & Services, which operates the hospital, declined to comment because of the pending litigation.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
In addition to the hospital, the suit also lists as defendants: Dr. Kenneth Dirk, Dr. John Douglas Roll, and Oregon Health & Science University.

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Bonita Weldon Bonita Weldon Tuesday, April 15, 2014 11:40:20 AM OH NO!!!! SAD
Ed Hillenbrand Ed Hillenbrand Tuesday, April 15, 2014 2:58:35 PM What did the ambulance run sheet say? Did they have the working Dx correct?
Sandy Waltz Sandy Waltz Tuesday, April 15, 2014 4:08:32 PM Did the ambulance run sheet have the correct working diagnosis? Aren't the doctors the one to make the diagnosis? To mistake a stroke for an emotional issue seems totally ridiculous. They should be sued for malpractice!
Steve Jacobi Steve Jacobi Tuesday, April 15, 2014 4:41:34 PM What's this? Paramedics don't diagnose? This argument seems to go in the direction of when it is beneficial to the Paramedic but not if they have to held accountable.
Kim Callaghan Kim Callaghan Tuesday, April 15, 2014 6:01:03 PM Ambulance Run sheets do not go into the diagnostic imaging suites....THATS where the screwup occured!
Jonathan Farrow Jonathan Farrow Tuesday, April 15, 2014 9:43:23 PM "In addition to the hospital, the suit also lists as defendants: Dr. Kenneth Dirk, Dr. John Douglas Roll, and Oregon Health & Science University."
Laura Gleason-Gauvin Laura Gleason-Gauvin Wednesday, April 16, 2014 8:46:02 AM This had nothing to do with the ambulance crew or their run sheets...... EMS crews are not doctors and do not interpret imaging that is done IN A HOSPITAL BY A DOCTOR!!!! Why is everyone questioning the ambulance crew?? This is a mistake made in a hospital by people who have the initials M.D. after their name.......
Burt Densmore Burt Densmore Wednesday, April 16, 2014 10:28:38 AM picky picky
Ashley Swineford Ashley Swineford Wednesday, April 16, 2014 2:19:26 PM This clearly was not the ambulance crews' fault....more like doctors who don't see to know what they're doing or what they're looking for.
Corey Doyle Corey Doyle Wednesday, April 16, 2014 5:27:15 PM do you confirm stroke like symptoms on an unresponsive pt?
Nancy Ann Nancy Ann Wednesday, April 16, 2014 9:56:05 PM Same thing for me may 2013 but I don't have money for court!
Shelby Elizabeth Kinley Foster Shelby Elizabeth Kinley Foster Thursday, April 17, 2014 2:36:38 AM Most attorneys work the case first then take a portion out of the settlement. Especially the cases that have a good chance of winning. You sound like you are looking for attention. If this truly happened to you, you would be able to find an attorney.
Nancy Ann Nancy Ann Thursday, April 17, 2014 3:13:45 AM Hey Shelby I don't need attention if I did Im sure I can find more creative ways to get it. Oh and no attorneys do charge regardless. Thanks
Ed Hillenbrand Ed Hillenbrand Thursday, April 17, 2014 3:13:52 AM Corey Doyle Blood sugar, any sort of neurological response, when did the family last see the patient "normal" and lastly, was she responsive in the rig? Think it all the way through: a good paramedic or EMT will often have a clue that an unresponsive patient may have had a stroke just by the way we find the patient.
Corey Doyle Corey Doyle Thursday, April 17, 2014 12:57:26 PM Im aware of how we work up an unresponsive pt...but you didnt answer how you differentiate stroke like symptoms on an unresponsive pt...our job is to get the unresponsive pt to the hospital, where they can have specialist diagnose and treat the pt, ill gaurantee that if you went through all of your unresponsive pt protocols youd still be scratching your head after wondering what was wrong with your far as a working "diagnosis" goes...we dont diagnose...but my primary impression would simply state unresponsive.
Ed Hillenbrand Ed Hillenbrand Thursday, April 17, 2014 6:29:23 PM Corey Doyle I don't know about you, but I do diagnose & treat all the time. If you take a blood glucose reading and decide on a course of treatment based on that reading. You have made a diagnosis. Just one of the simpler examples. After 30 years in the field I can generally work out a reasonable diagnosis on many patients, even the unconscious/unresponsive. Naturally it won't be as refined as a doctors, but reasonable enough to point the doctors in the right direction. I am also savvy enough to say, 'Doc I haven't a clue' when that is the case.

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