Shanes v. Kiser
In Shanes v. Kiser, 729 So. 2d 319 (Ala. 1999) the plaintiff's decedent sought emergency treatment for pain in her chest and upper abdomen that radiated to her back. She reported that she did not have a history of heart disease and that she had experienced the symptoms some years earlier. The plaintiff alleged, among other things, that the doctor should have consulted a cardiologist and should have performed other tests that might have revealed the onset of a heart attack.
The Court held that the doctor could not be found to have breached the standard of care, given the uncertainty as to what had caused the decedent's death. Although the medical expert testified, based on statistical probabilities and the decedent's medical history and symptoms, that the death was heart-related, both the medical expert and the doctor who had treated the decedent identified at least three conditions with overlapping symptoms that were not heart-related and that could have resulted in sudden death. Id. at 322.