Millions Awarded in Medical Malpractice Suit

WHEELING – An Ohio County jury awarded more than $4 million to the family of a Tiltonsville woman Wednesday after finding an emergency room doctor negligent in her death.

On Feb. 22, 2009, 43-year-old Terry Hiam was brought via ambulance to East Ohio Regional Hospital in Martins Ferry in full cardiopulmonary arrest at 4:45 a.m. after being found unresponsive at home. She was pronounced dead less than 20 minutes later at 5:04 a.m.

Eleven days prior, Hiam was transported by ambulance from a local urgent care facility to Wheeling Hospital, where she was examined by Dr. Stephen Heirendt. Following Heirendt’s examination, Hiam was discharged with a diagnosis of “chest pain of unclear cause and bronchitis.”

The jury decided that a more thorough examination by Heirendt would have revealed warning signs of an impending heart attack. The case was tried before Circuit Judge James Mazzone.

Heirendt is a contract physician employed by Emergency Physicians Medical Group of Ann Arbor, Mich. He is listed as an emergency medicine specialist on Wheeling Hospital’s website.

Wheeling Hospital officials were not immediately available for comment.

More details in Friday’s edition of The Intelligencer.