It's been almost a year since John Ritter's shocking death, an event his family isn't about to let the hospital where he died forget. TV's Extra broke the news that the actor's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit last Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Burbank's Providence St. Joseph Medical Center. Ritter died on Sept. 11, 2003, at age 54 from a heart ailment that had gone unnoticed until Ritter fell ill that afternoon on the set of his sitcom 8 Simple Rules, but the suit argues that he could have been saved had the doctors at nearby Providence St. Joseph not initially misdiagnosed the ailment when he was brought in that evening.
According to the suit, as obtained by Reuters, Ritter arrived at the hospital complaining of chest pain, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. The suit says he was initially diagnosed with an acute myocardial infarction, then misdiagnosed again with pericardial tamponade. Less than five hours after he arrived, he died of what doctors ultimately determined to be a ''large ascending aortic aneurysm with a severe dissection.'' The suit claims that ''if proper procedures had been followed to diagnose and treat Mr. Ritter's symptoms, he would be alive and well today." Filed on behalf of Ritter's widow, actress Amy Yasbeck, and his four children, the suit names the hospital and several doctors as defendants and seeks unspecified general damages, wrongful death damages, medical expenses, and funeral and burial expenses.
A statement released by the hospital acknowledged being informed of the lawsuit but did not respond to its allegations, citing the Ritters' initial request for patient confidentiality. ''When Mr. Ritter was originally admitted to our hospital, his family asked that no information on his illness be released by the hospital,'' the statement said. ''We will continue to honor this request. We extend our deepest and most sincere sympathy to the Ritter family for their loss.''