On February 6, 2012, Kristine Coleman felt a sharp pain shoot down her left arm. The sensation lingered and Coleman, then 41, was rushed to the Geisinger Community Medical Center. Coleman told the attending physicians that she was experiencing pain from her left shoulder all the way to her left hand. The medical center staff determined that Coleman may have suffered from a heart attack and tests were scheduled. But according to a medical malpractice lawsuit, filed in 2014 on behalf of Coleman’s family, Dr. Chua Fe Huang canceled the cardiac catheterization and the exam was never rescheduled.
After more than a week in the hospital Coleman was discharged, but just four days later, on February 20, she returned to the emergency room. The pain in her left arm had intensified and she had trouble breathing. Six hours later, Coleman suffered from cardiac arrest and passed away. The lawsuit claims that Dr. Huang and Dr. Paul Dubiel, who was working in the emergency room, both failed to diagnose Coleman’s heart attack. Coleman’s lawyers allege that if the heart attack was identified steps could have been taken to extend her life.
Court documents show that an autopsy confirmed that Coleman experienced a heart attack on February 6, which went undiagnosed and untreated. More than three and a half years later, James Gibbons, a Pennsylvania judge, approved a multi-million-dollar settlement between Coleman’s estate, Geisinger Community Medical Center, and the two doctors. According to the lawsuit both doctors believed that Coleman was suffering from pneumonia.
The insurance companies representing the hospital and doctors will pay $2 million and the Medical Care Availability and Reduction Error Fund (Mcare) will pay $1.5 million. Of the $3.5 million settlement, $1.91 million will go to the estate. Kristine’s husband will receive half of the $1.91 million and the other half of the settlement has been set aside for their two children. Judge Gibbons also oversaw the creation of a trust to hold the money for Coleman’s children who are now 18 and 15 years old.