Medical experts testify in Madison County med mal trial

Christina Stueve Oct. 19, 2011, 11:17am


Jurors in a medical malpractice trial listened to medical experts testify Wednesday in Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge's courtroom.

Dr. Gerald Suchomski testified as an expert for Dr. Anthony E. Malench of Maryville, who is being sued by Ronald E. Pratt of Edwardsville.

Pratt claims Malench is responsible for the fatal heart attack of his wife, Barbara Jean, in 2009.

Dr. John Ortinau testified for the plaintiff during the morning.

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.

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 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 Tuesday, 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, and his children Michael Pratt and Karen Burns, testified Tuesday.

Mudge ordered arguments to resume at 9 a.m. Thursday. He expects the trial to last until Friday.

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