A cardiac catheterization is a common procedure used every day for diagnosing and treating coronary artery disease. Part of the procedure typically involves injecting dye to make the vessels easier to visualize on x-ray. Unfortunately, some patients can have an allergic reaction to dye. In some cases, the allergic reaction can be fatal. A medical malpractice trial recently conducted in Baltimore involved this very issue. There, a jury found doctors responsible for the death of a woman who suffered a fatal reaction to dye used during a cardiac catheterization procedure when the woman had demonstrated she was at increased risk of being allergic to dye.
According to the medical malpractice lawsuit, Sherry Pittman was 52 years old when she saw doctors at MidAtlantic complaining of chest pain. After testing, doctors found Pittman had a normal heart size and normal heart function with mild hardening of tissue and no significant narrowing of vessels. According to the family's medical malpractice lawyer, there was no evidence Ms. Pittman had coronary artery disease but doctors went ahead and still ordered a cardiac catheterization procedure. In addition, MidAtlantic physicians had been told by Pittman she had a previous severe reaction to a bee sting five years earlier which seemingly put the physicians on notice she may have a severe allergic to dyeing agents. According to the lawsuit, the severe bee sting reaction required doctors to determine the extent of her tolerance to dyeing agents before conducting the procedure with a full dosage of dye.