Putnam doctor named in wrongful death suit

By Lawrence Smith | Aug 27, 2010

WINFIELD -– A Putnam County woman is suing a family doctor for the wrongful death of her daughter.

Sandra Sigmon filed suit against Dr. Thomas J. Rittinger on July 30 in Putnam Circuit Court. In her complaint, Sigmon alleges Rittinger failed to diagnose a heart problem Drake had during a visit to the emergency room which resulted in her death a month later.

According to the suit, Drake went to the CAMC Teays Valley emergency room on April 3, 2008. Following evaluation she was admitted to the hospital the next day and remained there until April 6 while under Rittinger's care.

Rittinger, Sigmon alleges, failed to properly evaluate and treat Drake during her three-day stay. Along with failing "to consider the personal and family history of Amanda Drake as they pertained to her complaints," Sigmon alleges Rittinger failed to order appropriate testing for her including a "stress test, echocardiogram of the heart and cardiac catheterization, and consult with specialists, including cardiologists.

Instead of treating her for ischemic heart disease, Sigmon alleges Rittinger only treated Drake for "gastrointestinal symptoms until such point her condition became and was terminal, resulting in her death." The suit alleges Drake died on May 3, 2008, after she suffered an apparent heart attack, and attempts to resuscitate her failed.

As a result of Rittinger's alleged negligence, Sigmon maintains that she and Drake's survivors, including her son, "have been and continue to be deprived of her love, comfort, companionship, advice, and other kindly offices." Drake's estate, to which Sigmon was appointed administratrix on Aug. 5, 2008, incurred funeral and burial expenses, and suffered the loss of her income.

Sigmon seeks unspecified damages, interest and costs. She is represented by Robert P. Welsh with the Masters Law Firm in Charleston.

The case is assigned to Judge Phillip M. Stowers.

Putnam Circuit Court case number 10-C-257

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