The family of a man whose lethal heart ailment was misdiagnosed as a lung infection was awarded $4.8 million this week by a Suffolk County jury, which concluded a doctor was responsible for the man’s death.
Jeffrey Kace came in to the St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center emergency room complaining of a cough, fever, and chest pains on Aug. 14, 2006. During a five minute visit, Dr. Ivan E. Liang diagnosed the 23-year-old man with bronchitis. The physician prescribed antibiotics and painkillers, and sent him home to rest, said Robert Higgins, the medical malpractice lawyer who handled the case for Kace’s estate.
The next morning, Kace was found dead in his bed about 6 a.m., Higgins said.
In the weeks that followed, medical examiners identified Kace’s cause of death as myocarditis, a virus that infects and inflames the heart muscle.