Appeals court rules against doctor

A Hoag Hospital doctor will still have to pay an 85-year-old woman's family for failing to notice a blood clot that contributed to her death, an appellate court ruled this week.

Dr. Luke Cheung, 49, of Irvine attended to Lois Shafer, of Corona del Mar on Feb. 8, 2009, after she fell in her home and suffered a head injury, according to appellate court documents.

Cheung discharged Shafer after reviewing a CT scan of her brain, and sent her home with orders to resume her normal medication, including taking a blood thinner, Coumadin, and have uninterrupted sleep. Court documents say he failed to notice a 7-millimeter collection of blood on her brain's surface.

The next morning Shafer's husband was unable to wake her. At the hospital, a 25-millimeter collection of blood was found to be compressing Shafer's brain, according to court documents. She later died of her injuries.

That September, her husband and two adult children sued Cheung and Hoag, and eventually settled out of court with another radiologist. In November 2010, the jury awarded the Shafer family $206,356.31 from Cheung, but he appealed.

During the trial Cheung contended there was insufficient evidence pointing to his actions as causing Shafer's death.

Hoag was not found liable in the suit.

On Wednesday, the Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the jury's decision that Cheung should pay the Shafer family.

Cheung did not immediately return calls for comment. There is no record of disciplinary action taken against Cheung in state medical board records.

Twitter: @lawilliams30

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