31-year-old teacher dies in front of students, doctor withheld critical test results

A school teacher in his early 30s had a heart attack in front of his classroom full of students and then died. His family contacted Painter Law Firm to investigate a medical malpractice case.

About five years before this man passed away, he had surgery to replace a faulty heart valve. He had no problems until about five months before his fatal heart attack, when he started having fainting spells.

The young teacher saw a cardiologist in the Kingwood, Texas area, who ran tests and had him wear a Holter monitor for several days. A Holter monitor is a portable electrocardiography (ECG) machine that cardiologists have a patient wear for a few days up to two weeks. The device picks up some cardiac arrhythmias and other issues that might otherwise be undetectable during an office visit.

Cardiologist orders testing, doesn’t share results

After wearing a Holter monitor for the prescribed time, the patient went back to the cardiologist who discontinued the equipment. The standard of care requires a cardiologist to review the Holter monitor data and other testing results and then communicate findings and treatment recommendations to the patient.

Unfortunately, this patient’s cardiologist never contacted him with any results or treatment options.

Family uncovers the truth after patient’s death

After he died, the family got copies of his medical records from the cardiologist and learned, for the first time, that the cardiologist had identified some significant abnormalities. The patient’s artificial valve was not working correctly, and he had an enlarged right ventricle.

Sadly, these problems were treatable, if only the patient had been told about them.

What you can do

In my experience as a Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, I’ve seen this type of tragedy repeatedly.

If a physician orders testing, then the results must be important enough to communicate back to the patient—even if there’s nothing wrong. Some doctors have a better support staff and notification system than others.

Sometimes this can happen on the front end (ordering) of testing. Other times, as happened with the cardiologist, it occurs on the results end.

In a different case I handled against a Cypress, Texas OB/GYN group, there was some critical blood work that a pregnant mom needed to have done. One doctor told her to go next door to the lab to get blood drawn, which she did. The patient didn’t know what type of testing had been ordered and, for some reason, the lab didn’t perform this one crucial test.

Throughout the rest of her pregnancy, this mom was seen by a total of four different doctors in the OB/GYN group, but none of them told her exactly what bloodwork was needed or that the results were missing. Because of all this blundering, her baby was born with a permanent brain injury caused by a blood reaction, or Rh incompatibility.

When I had a medical expert review the case, he was shocked and described this as barbaric medicine—something that should never happen.

You can improve your safety as a patient by having direct conversations with your physician, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant. Be sure to bring some paper and a pen to jot down some notes. If they’re ordering lab or radiology testing, write that down. Ask when the results will be an and write that down, too. If you don’t hear back from their office with the results, call and ask for them.

We are here to help

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or even died because of medical or hospital care, then the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Painter Law Firm, in Houston, Texas, are here to help. Click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800.

All consultations are free, and, because we only represent clients on a contingency fee, you will owe us nothing unless we win your case. We handle cases in the Houston area and all over Texas. We are currently working on medical malpractice lawsuits in Houston, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Conroe, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Bryan/College Station, and Waco.


Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Association, he was honored, in 2018, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. Also, in 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.

Robert Painter
Article by

Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.