imagesVitalina Martinez was a long-term patient of the defendant internal medicine physician Eladio Vargas, MD. Martinez was Dr. Vargas’s patient for over 17 years. During this time, Dr. Vargas prescribed various narcotics, Benzodiazepines and barbiturates. Martinez became addicted to these medicines.

She was 52 years old when she fell at home on Oct. 24, 2007. She alleged that the fall was caused by an overdose of the medications prescribed by Dr. Vargas. She was taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital where she was admitted for 3 weeks. During this 3-week hospitalization, she went through a detoxification protocol to ease her dependence on the multiple prescription medicines prescribed by Dr. Vargas.

Three weeks after her discharge from Lutheran General, she went to Dr. Vargas’s office on Dec. 4, 2007. At this visit, Dr. Vargas prescribed Xanax and 200 mg of MS Contin for daily use.


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imagesOn March 21, 2007, Daniel Gapinski underwent neurosurgery at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Ill. The surgery was for resection of the brain mass in the pituitary area. The defendant, Dr. Neena Gujrati, was the pathologist who interpreted the tissue specimens. Dr. Gujrati concluded that the tissue specimen were benign meningioma, a tumor usually found in the membrane lining of the brain just inside of the skull or on the spinal cord. These tumors are usually slow growing and are 90% of the time found to be benign.

Gapinski, who was then age 42, received small doses of radiation in an attempt to debulk the benign tumor. He was able to return to work as a heavy equipment operator for 2 years working up to 14 hours per day. However, in late 2008, Gapinski began experiencing symptoms similar to those he experienced in 2007 before his surgery. Gapinski returned to St. Francis Medical Center and also went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for a second opinion. He eventually underwent a two-phase neurosurgery procedure in 2009 at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The pathology from that surgery was read as renal cell carcinoma, indicating the presence of a kidney cancer that had metastasized to the brain.

Gapinski and his wife decided to return to Illinois for treatment at the University of Chicago Hospital. At the time of the transfer of his care to the University of Chicago, all of his medical records, including the original 2007 pathology slides prepared by Dr. Gujrati were evaluated. A pathologist at the University of Chicago diagnosed the tissues from 2007 as being consistent with renal cell carcinoma. Continue reading →

imagesIn a strange but interesting medical malpractice case, the jury entered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff without awarding a single dollar for plaintiff’s noneconomic damages. In April 2013, after a three-day jury trial, the jury found in this medical negligence lawsuit that the defendant physician Dr. Sublette was negligent in the cause of the death of his patient, Concetta Cimino, but concluded that there could be no awarded damages. This wrongful death, medical malpractice case was brought by the family of Cimino.

She was 83 years old in January 2009 and, according to testimony from her family, was in “pretty good health” when she phoned her daughter and told her she had been vomiting regularly.

Cimino’s daughter then drove her to Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, Ill., the following day.

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imagesHW was 44 years old and had a history of heroin abuse. He developed severe back pain and then went to a local hospital’s emergency room telling the nursing staff that he was also suffering from heroin addiction and that he had experienced fever and nausea.

HW underwent testing, including an EKG, x-rays and blood work and was discharged from the hospital with a diagnosis of exacerbated back pain and narcotic withdrawal.

When the final results of HW’s blood culture were finalized it showed that he was suffering from a systemic blood infection. However, the hospital claimed that it was not able to reach HW by phone to advise him of these very dangerous results. Instead, the hospital sent a certified letter to the address that HW had given at the time of his admission. A copy of that letter was found in his medical records file. Predictably, before HW received the letter, he suffered paralysis from his chest down because of the systemic blood infection.

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images-3Patricia McCleod, 49, suffered from pain, numbness and tingling in her left leg. A plastic surgeon, Dr. Patrick Swier, ordered testing and later diagnosed McCleod with lower extremity nerve compression.

Dr. Swier recommended surgery to avoid permanent nerve damage. Dr. Swier performed nine separate nerve procedures on McLeod’s left leg.

After the surgeries, McLeod developed complex regional pain syndrome, which resulted in constant and severe pain. She is no longer able to work as a school teacher; she was earning $60,000 annually.

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images-1Jerry Medlin, 60, underwent cataract surgery in his left eye. The surgery was completed by an ophthalmologist, Dr. Timothy Young. During the surgery, Dr. Young called for VisionBlue, a staining solution used in cataract surgeries. A nurse during surgery tried unsuccessfully to retrieve the solution from the hospital’s automated medication dispensing system. She then typed “blue” into the system, which gave her the option to receive Methylene Blue.

The nurse took the Methylene Blue to the operating room and told the doctor that she had the drug. A technologist also announced the name of the same drug and then drew up a syringe, which Dr. Young injected into Medlin’s eye.

Medlin suffered toxic anterior segment syndrome. Despite a corneal grafting procedure, Medlin is now blind in his left eye. He filed a lawsuit against the hospital, Dr. Young and his practice, claiming negligent administration of a toxic substance. The lawsuit did not claim lost income.

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imagesJ.B. was 35 years old and in her 26th week of her third pregnancy when she developed a severe headache and abdominal cramping. J.B. called her treating obstetrician’s office and later spoke to an on-call physician. That doctor diagnosed a gastrointestinal issue and told J.B. that there was no need for her to go to the hospital.

About 14 hours later, J.B. suffered a stroke. She now suffers from cognitive impairment and paralysis in her right arm, leg and foot. She had been a factory worker earning about $37,000 a year, but now is unable to work at all.

J.B. and her husband sued the obstetrician and her practice, alleging that she chose not to take a full and appropriate history, which would have revealed that J.B.’s abdominal pain was located exclusively in her upper right quadrant, indicative of preeclampsia.

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images-2A wrongful-death case was brought against One Hope United Inc., one of its employees and the Cook County public guardian who was acting as administrator of 7-month-old Marshana Philpot. One Hope provides services to troubled families under a contract with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). One of its assignments from DCFS was to oversee Marshana and provide counseling to the child’s mother, Lashana Philpot.

Marshana had been hospitalized for failure to thrive and was eventually returned to Lashana Philpot under One Hope’s “intact family services” program. Unfortunately, the baby drowned in a bathtub allegedly because Lashana Philpot left her unattended.

In the wrongful-death case, the attorneys requested One Hope’s “priority review” report on the child’s death. The agency objected and invoked the privilege for self-critical analysis.

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images-1Three years after the death of Kathryn Moon, the plaintiff, Randall Moon, who served as executor of his mother’s estate, filed a wrongful death and survival action lawsuit against the defendants, Dr. Clarissa Rhode and Central Illinois Radiological Associates Ltd. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint stating that the complaint was filed untimely. The trial judge granted the defendants’ motion.

The plaintiff appealed arguing that the trial court was wrong in granting the defendants’ motion. The plaintiff contended that the discovery rule applied in that the statute of limitations did not begin to run until the date in which he knew or reasonably should have known of the defendants’ negligent conduct.

The decedent was Kathryn Moon, then 90, who was admitted to Proctor Hospital on May 18, 2009. Two days later, Dr. Jeffrey Williamson performed surgery on her. She remained in the hospital from May 20 to May 23, 2009 and then was seen by a different doctor from May 23 to May 28. She died on May 29, 2009.

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prov-150x150The Illinois Appellate Court ruled that the emergency-room resident physician, Dr. Nicholas Strane, was immune from suit under the Illinois Emergency Medical Services System Act.

This case arises out of transporting an 11-year-old boy, Donail Weems, who had a severe asthma attack and was taken to Provident Hospital, which is managed by Cook County. One of the physicians who rode along in the ambulance was Dr. Strane, a University of Chicago Medical Center physician. The University of Chicago Medical Center asked the Illinois Appellate court, First District Court to address whether one of its doctors was immune under the Emergency Medical Services Systems Act.

The trial was held in July 2013; the presiding judge denied the hospital’s motion for summary judgment, which asserted civil immunity, but the judge certified the question for appellate review.

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