CHARLESTON - A Charleston physician's failure to perform tests on a Hernshaw man for heart complications resulted in his premature death, a lawsuit alleges.

On Jan. 9, Sherry L. Mitchell, as the administrix of the estate of late husband, Rocky Allen Mitchell, filed suit against Dr. Kelli Jo Dumm. In her complaint and suit, filed with the assistance of Larry O. Ford, with the Charleston law firm of Meyer, Ford and Glasser, failed to timely diagnosis Rocky for heart disease which contributed to his death in 2007.

According to court records, Mitchell became a patient of Dumm's on Sept. 5, 2006. It was that day Mitchell came to Dumm's office at Mountain State Medical Associates seeking treatment for back pain and peripheral neuropathy.

During her treatment, Dumm detected signs of heart disease in Mitchell. Her diagnosis on Nov. 15, 2006, led to the conclusion that he had an edema in his extremities, which was later resolved on Dec. 11.

About a week after diagnosing his symptoms as an edema, records show Dumm ordered an echocardiogram for Mitchell. On Nov. 30, 2006, the results came back normal.

Records show Mitchell returned to Dumm in early January 2007 due to his feet swelling. On Jan. 10, she ordered a brain natriuretic peptide test to detect for congestive heart failure which often is indicated by swelling of the feet, or pedal edema.

Two days later, Mitchell died. According to his death certificate, his immediate cause of death was methadone intoxication with a "sure three-vessel coronary artery atherosclerosis" as a secondary cause.

Mitchell's suit alleges that while the BNP test was ordered, it was never conducted. Also, because Dumm was aware Rocky, in addition to swelling of the feet, had a 47 pound weight gain the three months prior to his death, she should have ordered a blood sample and stress test to rule out heart disease.

"Congestive heart failure coupled with a 47 pound weight gain would stress Plaintiff's decedent's heart and would be adverse to his survival," the suit alleges. "Timely diagnosis would have resulted in appropriate treatment for heart disease."

Dumm's negligence in failing to timely diagnose Mitchell for heart disease led to his wrongful death. As a result of Dumm's negligence, Sherry Mitchell alleges she has, among other things, "incurred funeral and burial expenses and has suffered mental anguish, loss of society [and] companionship…of decedent…and otherwise has been greatly damaged."

She is seeking unspecified damages.

The case has been assigned to Judge Louis H. "Duke" Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 09-C-47

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