imagesThe Illinois Supreme Court is about to entertain two cases that may have great impact on how medical-malpractice cases are handled. In the case of Klaine v. Southern Illinois Hospital Services, the state Supreme Court will decide whether  a doctor’s application for hospital privileges to practice at a particular hospital are privileged and cannot be produced in discovery.

In this case, Carol Klaine filed a medical-malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Frederick Dreesen claiming that she was injured after a colon surgery performed by the doctor. Klaine also filed a claim against Southern Illinois Hospital Services alleging negligent credentialing of Dr. Dreesen.

During the discovery process, Klaine wanted the documents that Dr. Dreesen submitted as part of his application for staff privileges at Southern Illinois Hospital. The documents requested included information about his work history, claims history and insurance history, as well as the history of decisions and recommendations on his prior applications for hospital privileges.

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rotate_Hines_340x210John Dux was alleged to have committed suicide because of a medical-malpractice incident at the Hines Veterans Administration Hospital in Maywood, Ill. The lawsuit brought by his daughter was filed against the United States government under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which included a claim for wrongful death.

The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The U.S. district judge who considered the case had to decide whether Illinois precedent on proximate causation blocked the wrongful-death claim.

With two exceptions, Illinois follows the traditional rule that “a plaintiff may not recover for a decedent’s suicide following a tortious act because suicide is an independent intervening event that the tortfeasor cannot be expected to foresee.” Luss v. Village of Forest Park, 377 Ill.App.3d 318 (2007).

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images-1On June 13, 2005, Raymond Jackson, then 50, was admitted to. Provena St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Ill., for intractable back pain. He had a pre-existing condition of spine problems and was suffering from an unstable fracture of the T-12 vertebrae, which was not timely diagnosed and treated and caused him to sustain permanent paraplegia by 8 a.m. on June 16, 2005. He died of related causes in 2008.

His medical malpractice lawsuit against several of the defendants settled for $2.77 million in 2012, which included $2.5 million from Provena Hospitals on behalf of its employee nurses and an outside nursing contractor.

The lawsuit had included allegations that after a flat bedrest order was entered at 5 p.m. on June 15, the nursing staff chose not to follow the doctor’s orders to keep the patient on flat bedrest and chose not to prevent him from moving during the next 15 hours, which caused or contributed to the hematoma that was found compressing his spinal cord.

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thMary Mitchell underwent a total abdominal hysterectomy, but the doctor chose not to employ the appropriate prophylactic measures to prevent deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism that was alleged to have caused or contributed to her untimely and unfortunate death.. The doctor who did the surgery, Dr. Amalendu Majumdar was an obstetrician-gynecologist. When this patient flashed signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism during the post-op visit that he made on Nov. 20, 2004, he did not recognize and/or treat the signs and symptoms of this emergency.

As a result of Dr. Majumdar’s failings, Mitchell, who was only 43 years old, died the next day from extensive bilateral pulmonary emboli. She is survived by her husband and two children, ages 14 and 24.

The defendant doctor contended that he complied with the medical standard of care, that he did provide proper intra-operative and post-operative prophylaxis and that the patient did not exhibit “classic’ signs of a pulmonary embolism at the post-op visit on Nov. 20.

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thLatasha Randall was admitted on June 1, 2010 to Vista East Medical Center in Waukegan, Ill., and was diagnosed with sepsis. Shortly after her admission, she suffered respiratory failure and was intubated.

On June 22, 2010, the defendant general surgeon, Dr. Laurence Gibson, performed an open tracheostomy and was assisted by his physician partner, Dr. Aaron Siegel.

After the procedure, 37-year-old Randall’s face was noticeably swollen and post-op x-rays showed subcutaneous emphysema (air outside lungs, under the skin). Three days later, her attending physician transferred her to Kindred Hospital in Chicago for management of her ventilation, but with a grim prognosis due to her sepsis and other lethal illnesses.

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th-2John Antonucci was 52 years old at the time he underwent an MRI with contrast on his right hip. Two days later he was admitted to the hospital complaining of pain in the same hip. An orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jason Fond, obtained a culture and later discharged Antonucci with a diagnosis of “inflammation.” One and a half days later, Antonucci was diagnosed as having septic arthritis.

As a result, Antonucci required a hip replacement and now suffers from chronic pain, which prevents him from doing many of the daily activities of living or returning to his job as a construction worker where he was earning $35,000 per year.

Antonucci and his wife filed suit against Dr. Fond and his practice, claiming that Dr. Fond chose not to timely treat the infection and that evidence of such infection was present on the culture results that the doctor ordered. The plaintiffs claimed that Antonucci required a timely surgical washout of the wound created by the contrast injection and that the delay in treatment allowed the infection to progress to dangerous levels.

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thBarbara Watt underwent a hiatal hernia repair surgery. The procedure was carried out by general surgeon Dr. Cimenga Tshibaka, and it was unsuccessful. Dr. Tshibaka performed a second surgery, this time using a synthetic surgical mesh. The second surgery was about 2 weeks after the first.

The following month, Watt was diagnosed as having an esophageal leak, which required nine additional surgeries to, among other things, remove the synthetic mesh that had eroded into her esophagus.

As a result of these many surgeries, Watt must now eat slowly and in limited amounts. She must also wear special undergarments due to scarring and is unable to bend over to lift more than 5 pounds. She also missed time from her job as a financial operations specialist where she was earning $21 per hour.

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UnknownShronda Thomason suffered from a cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, which necessitated the implanting of a defibrillator. The treating cardiologist, Dr. John Gallagher, advised Thomason that she required a new pacemaker battery and the replacement of the defibrillator’s lead.

During the surgery, which was done in a hospital catherization lab, Thomason sustained a puncture and hole in her superior vena cava of her heart. Clearly, the hole resulted in profuse and immediate bleeding from that area of the heart. Dr. Gallagher called for a cardiothoracic surgeon to assist. Thomason was placed on cardiovascular bypass about an hour and a half later. By then, it was too late.

Because Thomason suffered excessive bleeding, she died. Thomason was a property specialist earning more than $50,000 annually and was survived by her four children, one of whom is a minor.

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images-1Kevin Tolson was 49 years old when he was injured as the collapsible barrier he was walking over suddenly shot upward, entangling him. He was taken to the nearby hospital emergency room where he experienced symptoms, which included a cold left foot that he was unable to move, numbness and tingling in the foot as well as severe pain. X-rays were completed and a physician assistant diagnosed knee strain and released Tolson from the hospital with instructions to see an orthopedic surgeon.

When Tolson’s symptoms persisted, he consulted a local doctor who detected low pulse in his leg and instructed him to return to the hospital. An MRI revealed that all of the ligaments in Tolson’s left knee were damaged. Despite surgery, Tolson’s leg had to be amputated above the knee. He had been a security guard working two jobs at about $20 an hour, but is now able to hold only one position due to his medical condition.

Tolson sued the physician assistant and emergency room physician at the hospital and also named the hospital as a party defendant. It was alleged in the lawsuit that these medical providers chose not to diagnose a popliteal artery injury. Tolson claimed that based on his symptoms and the x-rays that were taken at the emergency room a dislocation and possible vascular injury could not be ruled out.

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imagesViola Morrisroe was diagnosed with COPD and emphysema in 1999. She was under the care of Dr. Edward Diamond of Suburban Lung Associates as her primary pulmonologist. In February 2009, a CT scan of her chest revealed a soft tissue density in the right upper lobe of her lung.

Dr. Diamond referred her for a PET scan, which was done in late April 2009, showing a standardized uptake valve that was elevated, but not high enough to be suspicious for lung cancer.

Dr. Diamond’s plan was to repeat the CT scan in about 4 months.

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