th-5A Cook County jury heard evidence in a medical malpractice jury trial related to postoperative physical therapy that was alleged to have caused left knee ligament damage to the patient. The plaintiff in this case was 44-year-old Michele Boucher-Kmiec, who underwent left knee ligament repair surgery at Swedish Covenant Hospital on July 6, 2009. After the surgery, her leg was placed in an immobilizer.

On July 7 and July 8, 2009, the defendant physical therapist Brittany Mynsberge worked with the patient for her physical therapy. The physical therapy order came from Boucher-Kmiec’s surgeon, who did the knee surgery.

In this lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that physical therapist Mynsberge was negligent in performing range of motion exercises on the post-surgical knee when it was contraindicated. It was also alleged that the physical therapist would have known that such a range of motion exercise was not indicated if she had noticed the immobilizer, which extended from the patient’s buttocks to her toes. It further contended that the defendant physical therapist’s improper therapy caused danger to the repaired medial collateral ligament, which later became infected.

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th-4On Aug. 1 to Aug. 3, 2012, Luis Enrique Acevedo Muro M.D. attended a medical conference at the J.W. Marriott Hotel on Adams Street in downtown Chicago. While staying at the hotel, which was recently renovated and located at 151 W. Adams St., Dr. Acevedo was exposed to dangerous aerosolized water vapor from the hotel fountain, which was contaminated by Legionella bacteria. As a result, Dr. Acevedo, 80, contracted Legionnaires’ disease and was hospitalized at the University of Miami Hospital on Aug. 8, 2012 with fever, shortness of breath and hypoxia, which is a reduced blood flow with oxygen to the body.

Dr. Acevedo suffered from several pre-existing co-morbidities, including Stage 3 chronic kidney disease, coronary artery disease, diabetes and hyperlipedemia. Due to these serious medical conditions, Dr. Acevedo rapidly deteriorated, and he was transferred to the intensive care unit, but he subsequently became hypotensive, required intubation and then died on Aug. 14, 2012.

Dr. Acevedo was survived by his second wife and their daughter as well as four older daughters from his previous marriage. His family’s claim for medical expenses was $131,000. The hotel admitted liability and causation, but contested the damages.

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Unknown-1A Cook County jury found that no medical negligence that caused the death of Jerome Granat following a cardiac catherization. On June 16, 2010, the defendant cardiologist, Dr. Surendra Avula, performed a cardiac catherization procedure on 64-year-old Granat at Advocate Christ Hospital. The patient’s previous cardiac history included quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery in 1994, three stents put in place in 2002 and 2007 and one heart attack, but he still had normal heart function and was in reasonably good health at the time of this procedure.

Dr. Avula, the head of the cardiac cath lab at Christ Hospital, found 99% blockage in Granat’s old bypass vein graft, requiring a new stent; however, the old graft ruptured when the stent was inserted.

Despite emergency surgery, Granat suffered brain damage and died 2 weeks later. He had recently retired and was survived by his wife and three adult children. The family filed a lawsuit against Dr. Avula and his practice maintaining that he selected a stent that was too large (4 mm instead of 3.5 mm), that he improperly responded to the graft rupture and that he should have re-inserted a balloon to stop the bleeding rather than transferring the patient for emergency cardiovascular surgery.

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th-1When the government is the only defendant in a Federal Tort Claims Act, the statute of limitations is two years. It doesn’t matter whether the plaintiff — who is the injured party in a medical negligence case — was a minor at the time of the injury. The statute is clear in that it states that a claim accrues when the plaintiff discovers, or a reasonable person in the plaintiff’s position would have discovered, that she had in fact been injured by an act or omission attributable to the government. The issue in this case was when the two-year countdown started.

Tenille Wallace’s medical-malpractice claim was against two defendants — the federally funded Friend Family Health Center and a private institution, the University of Chicago Hospital. The case presented the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals with a “new twist” on the usual scenario.

Wallace received prenatal care at the Friend Family Health Center. Her son, E.Y., had a troubled delivery and has been diagnosed as suffering from diplegic cerebral palsy. E.Y. was born at the University of Chicago Hospital on April 4, 2005.

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thMargaret Brown, a 71-year-old retiree, was admitted to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville, Ill., in October 2002 to undergo a coronary artery bypass surgery. During the initial stages of the bypass surgery, Brown suffered a pulmonary artery injury. It was claimed in the lawsuit that the artery injury was caused by the insertion of a Swan-Ganz catheterization.

The Swan-Ganz catheter is commonly used by passing a thin tube, which is the catheter, into the right side of the heart and the arteries leading to the lungs to monitor the heart’s blood flow or output during the surgery. The Swan-Ganz catherization is also used to inform doctors and surgeons of an abnormal blood flow. Its use is standard operating procedure for monitoring patient heart and blow flood output in invasive heart surgeries.

In this lawsuit, the family of Margaret Brown maintained that the use of the Swan-Ganz catheter was the cause of her death on Oct. 28, 2002. The family alleged that the defendant anesthesiologist, Dr. Daniel Gillen, was responsible. Their claim was medical battery in that the doctor chose not to obtain consent for the use of the Swan-Ganz catheter by the patient before the beginning of the surgery. Medical battery is a legal cause of action where the medical provider is claimed to have treated the patient without the patient’s consent.

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imagesMelvin Jones received a cervical laminectomy on Feb. 6, 2008 by surgeon Dr. Martin Luken. Dr. Charles Beck, an internist at the same hospital, evaluated Jones after the surgery. Jones developed gastrointestinal issues, and Dr. Beck ordered a series of tests. Dr. Beck remained involved with Jones’s care over the next several days.

Dr. Beck had a scheduled vacation, and so he turned over the gastrointestinal care to Dr. Shibban Ganju. Dr. Ganju ordered additional tests, but shortly afterwards, Jones’s colon perforated. Because of the colon perforation, Jones had his colon removed and had a permanent ileostomy tube installed. On Dec, 4, 2008, Jones and his wife filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Drs. Beck and Ganju as well as the hospital in which he had received care.

In the lawsuit,. Jones alleged that the doctors chose not to properly treat and diagnose his condition. His wife, Loleather Jones, filed a claim for loss of consortium. Both the hospital and Dr. Ganju settled the case before trial and left Dr. Beck to defend at trial.

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thAaron Hein, 35, saw his family practice physician, Dr. Jean Engelkemeir at the doctor’s clinic; he was complaining of left ear pain, nasal drip and sore throat. It was Sept. 17, 2008 when Dr. Engelkemeir diagnosed Hein with otitis externa (inflammation/infection of the outer ear canal) and an upper respiratory infection. Dr. Engelkemeir prescribed Floxin antibiotic eardrops.

Hein called the doctor’s clinic two days later, Sept. 19, 2008 and told Dr. Engelkemeir that he was experiencing vertigo and nausea. The doctor prescribed Meclizine, which is an antihistamine.

Hein returned to the clinic on Sept. 22, 2008 and was seen by a different doctor at which time his outer ear pain, vertigo and nausea were improving, but his eardrum was bulging.

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imagesMichael Jacobs, 32, suffered a compression fracture in his back at L1. For that condition he was seen by neurosurgeon Dr. Mudit Sharma, who prescribed pain medicine and a back brace. Jacobs’s condition then improved and he returned to full-time work. At a follow-up appointment, Dr. Sharma told Jacobs that he required a spinal surgery in which the surgeon would inject a kind of cement into the spinal bones.

Jacobs agreed to undergo the surgery. As a result of the surgery going awry, Jacobs claimed that he suffered a nerve injury that has left him with chronic pain and required expensive daily narcotic medications. He also alleged that the surgery caused leg atrophy. Jacobs was a construction superintendent earning about $98,000 a year before his fracture and surgery. Jacobs missed about 30 days of work because of the surgery,

Jacobs filed a lawsuit against Dr. Sharma and the owner of his practice group claiming that Dr. Sharma was negligent in performing the unnecessary back surgery. The lawsuit maintained that Jacobs was not an appropriate candidate for this spinal surgery and that Dr. Sharma had misplaced bone drills during the surgical procedure, which allowed hot cement to enter Jacobs’s spinal canal.

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th-2Ms. Doe, 33, was injured in a car accident. She underwent leg surgery after the car crash. Her uninjured left leg was kept in the hemilithotomy position for more than six hours. While the injured leg was being repaired, which is held straight in traction, the uninjured leg is positioned above and is bent. Because of the position of the good leg, it does require some repositioning during a lengthy surgery like this. However, in this case, Ms. Doe was later diagnosed with compartment syndrome in her left leg, the uninjured leg, which necessitated surgery.

Ms. Doe underwent rehabilitation and was fitted with orthotics, but now she has difficulty walking and climbing stairs. Her medical expenses related to the uninjured left leg were $8,600.

Ms. Doe filed a lawsuit against her treating orthopedic surgeon and the hospital claiming that the defendants chose not to timely reposition her uninjured leg and timely diagnose compartment syndrome. The lawsuit did not request lost income.

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th-1Ms. Doe, 17, experienced back and abdominal pain in her 34th week of the pregnancy. She was admitted to a local hospital where her condition deteriorated over the next several days.

Ms. Doe was then diagnosed as having sepsis and placed on a ventilator. After giving birth to her daughter, Ms. Doe’s respiratory status worsened, prompting a Code Blue. Despite efforts to resuscitate, she suffered a hypoxic brain injury resulting in cognitive impairment. Ms. Doe now requires 24-hour care and lives in a nursing home facility.

The lawsuit against the hospital claimed that the hospital’s respiratory therapists chose not to properly adjust Ms. Doe’s ventilator settings. It was alleged that the settings or the lack of the proper settings was the cause of Ms. Doe’s brain injury. The lawsuit did not claim lost income.

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