Edwardsville man's med mal suit at trial in Madison County

Christina Stueve Oct. 18, 2011, 4:39pm



A medical malpractice trial is under way in Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge's courtroom involving an Edwardsville man's lawsuit against his wife's doctor of 30 years.

Ronall Pratt hopes to prove that Dr. Anthony E. Malench of Maryville is responsible for the fatal heart attack of his wife, Barbara Jean, in 2009.

Pratt's attorney, John Hopkins of Edwardsville, told jurors during opening arguments on Tuesday that Malench did not give Pratt an EKG during her visit to Malench's office on Jan. 21, 2009, despite the fact that she had chest pains and that he had EKG equipment. She died six days later, according to testimony.

Hopkins alleges Pratt had three risks for cardiovascular disease. She was over the age of 70; she had a history of high blood pressure and she had a history of cholesterol.

According to Hopkins, Malench did not perform blood tests or send Pratt to the hospital. Hopkins argued that failing to give an EKG was a breach in the standard of Pratt's care.

"Dr. Malench breached a standard of care, which led to the death of Mrs. Pratt and left a hole in their family," Hopkins said.

Defense attorney Tim Richards of Belleville told jurors that Malench did "exactly what any family practitioner would do" when Pratt visited his office with complaints of neck, arm and chest pain.

Richards said the details of her symptoms would establish that Malench met the standard of care.

He said that Malench's medical experts would testify that Malench acted as appropriately as possible, and evidence would show Pratt's signs did not indicate she had cardiac problems.

"He acted as they would have acted," Richards said.

On the stand, Malench testified that he listened to Pratt's heart on the day of her visit and said her heart condition was normal. Her diagnosis was cervical radiculitis. He said he gave her three types of medicine: a muscle relaxer, pain medication and an antiflammatory medicine. The source of her pain was musculoskeletal, Malench said.

"She had a variety of medical conditions," Malench said.

He said that Pratt would experience periods of weakness and fatigue and had musculoskeletal problems.

"She had pain when breathing," Malench said.

Ronall Pratt, 75, also took the stand.

He said that he and his wife met in the sixth grade, and they had seven children.

He testified that on Jan. 21, 2009, his wife said her neck and chest hurt, and her arm was "just hanging."

"She did not have strength in her arm," he said. They called the doctor's office and the doctor checked her and gave her medication, Pratt said.

Days later, she said she couldn't breathe, he said.

"You could see it in her eyes when she was ready to go," Pratt said.

The trial will continue Wednesday.

The case is 09-L-747.

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