thRobert Cruz filed a lawsuit alleging medical negligence against Dr. Robert R. Schenk and Hand Surgery Ltd., his medical practice, claiming that Dr. Schenk had chosen not to follow the standard of care. In his lawsuit, Cruz said Dr. Schenk used excessive injections and failed to adequately explore or treat the superficial radial right nerve, all of which, it was claimed, injured Cruz.

The jury trial proceeded without incident, but during the jury deliberations, the jury sent two questions to the trial judge. The first one was, “Is the Jury making a decision on how Mr. Cruz got originally hurt or are we making a decision on the quality of care that . . . provided?” The second question was, “After reading the ‘proximate cause statement’ is the jury correct to assume to interpret it in the following way: That if we, the jury, believe that Dr. Schank (sic) is not the only cause for Mr. Cruz’s injury, then we decide with the defense?”

The trial judge met with the parties to discuss the court’s response. The attorney for Cruz stated that the jury’s question should be answered “specifically and accurately.” However, the lawyer did not provide what response should be given to the jury by the judge and gave no written response to the court to give to the jury.

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th-1On March 10, 2007, Ramona Sue Yates was a patient in the emergency room at Memorial Hospital in Carbondale, Ill. She complained of severe back and abdominal pain. The defendant, emergency room physician, Dr. Daniel Doolittle, who was employed by the defendant Legatus Emergency Services, chose not to correctly diagnose or even suspect that Yates was suffering from a bowel obstruction and internal hernia.

Two years earlier, Yates, 47, had undergone gastric bypass surgery. Bowel obstruction is a known complication for patients following the weight-loss surgery.

Dr. Doolittle reportedly misdiagnosed Yates as having back spasms and had her admitted to the hospital for observation. Unfortunately, Yates died from the bowel obstruction the next day, March 11, 2007. She is survived by her husband and an adult son. She was employed as a nurse at a mental health facility.

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th-2Joel Burnette was just 40 years old with bipolar disorder and other mental health issues. He underwent a lumbar epidural steroid injection at a pain clinic to combat his back pain. The following week Burnette developed a lump at the epidural injection site. Burnette informed nurses at the pain clinic, and he was told by a nurse that this was not something to be concerned about. Days later, Burnette received a second epidural injection. After that second injection, Burnette developed an epidural abscess, deep tissue infection and MRSA meningitis and was diagnosed as having cauda equina syndrome, which left him with chronic pain, among other problems.

Cauda equina is a condition in which the nerves in the spine are compressed. MRSA meningitis is an uncommon disease that affects the lining around the brain and spinal cord. It can be fatal. MRSA alone is a bacterial infection that if not treated and eradicated by intense antibiotic treatment can be deadly. Burnette unfortunately later committed suicide

Burnette was survived by his parents who sued the anesthesiologist, Kimber Eubanks, M.D. and the pain clinic claiming that all were negligent in choosing not to identify the infection after the first injection and giving a second injection to an infected patient.

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thA jury deliberated 12 hours over two days before it was deadlocked, unable to reach a verdict by unanimous consent. The jury was deadlocked 8-4 or 7-5 in favor of the defendant Dr. Ian J. Goldberg.

This case arose out of an April 25, 2009 event, when Michael Knorps experienced crushing chest pain, shortness of breath and diaphoresis. Diaphoresis is a medical term for sweating profusely. Paramedics came to the 52-year-old Knorps giving him nitroglycerin, which completely relieved his chest pain. He was admitted to St. Alexius Hospital in Hoffman Estates, Ill., and was diagnosed with unstable angina. EKGs, cardiac enzymes and a cardiology consultation were all ordered. Knorps, 52, was seen the next day by a cardiologist, Dr. Ian Goldberg, who suspected coronary artery disease and recommended cardiac catherization/angiogram.

The angiogram was done the following day by Dr. Sumeet Sachdev, who found only mild coronary disease with 20% blockage of the left anterior descending artery and no disease in the other coronary arteries.

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200177292-001Butch Borden, 51, underwent lower back surgery by neurosurgeon Dr. Tom Staner. While Borden was recuperating, he developed weakness and sensory deficits in his legs. Dr. Staner instructed Borden to go to Brookwood Medical Center, where testing there revealed a small hematoma in the lower back. A hematoma is where a pool of blood gathers in an area of the body for different reasons. Borden was then admitted to the hospital.

While overnight in that hospital, Borden developed urinary incontinence and lost the use of both legs. This development was not communicated to any of Borden’s treating physicians, including Dr. Staner.

The next morning, however, Dr. Staner examined Borden and ordered an urgent CT scan and myelogram, which showed a large hematoma, another pool of collecting blood, compressing Borden’s cauda equina. The cauda equina, which is Latin for horse’s tail, is a bundle of spinal nerves and spinal nerve roots that run through the second to fifth lumbar nerves in the back. The compression of the cauda equina is a serious neurological condition and can cause loss of function. The cauda equina syndrome is caused by the compression of nerves at the end of the spinal cord.

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DownloadedFile-2Linda Lawson, 55, underwent a CT scan of her thoracic spine after she was experiencing leg and lower back pain. The scan was reported as being benign. Lawson’s symptoms continued and she had a lumbar CT scan 2 months later. The results of the CT were again reported by a second radiologist as being benign.

After her condition worsened, Lawson underwent an MRI, which showed a pelvic mass. She subsequently was diagnosed as having Stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which had spread to several lymph nodes and bones. She underwent aggressive inpatient treatment and is now in remission.

Lawson was a teacher earning about $40,000 annually and was unable to work for one year. She filed a lawsuit against Southwest Radiology, whose radiologist interpreted the first scan and the radiologist who read the second scan claiming that the radiologist chose not to timely diagnose her condition. Had she received an earlier diagnosis, Lawson argued she would have undergone less aggressive treatment on an outpatient basis.

Lawson settled with the second radiologist for a confidential amount. The jury awarded $640,000 against the first radiologist and the radiology practice.

The attorney representing Linda Lawson was Roger A. Johnson and Erin Voorhees.

Lawson v. Southwest Radiology, No. 11AO-CC00346 (Mo., Jasper Co. Cir. Sept. 13, 2013).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical malpractice cases, misdiagnosis of cancer cases and hospital negligence cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Glen Ellyn, Roselle, North Aurora, Plainfield, Tinley Park, Chicago Heights, Buffalo Grove, Lake in the Hills, Algonquin, Arlington Heights, Gurnee, Grayslake, Crystal Lake, Highland Park, Niles, Westridge, Westmont and Lombard, Ill.

Related blog posts:

Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Medical Malpractice Jury Verdict Because Trial Exhibit Went Beyond the Fairness Limit

$2.5 Million Settlement for Doctor’s Failure to Follow Up on Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Cook County Jury Sides with Family of Deceased in Medical Malpractice Case Related to Delay in Treatment of Bladder Cancer





thA 65-year-old woman, we’ll call her Ms. Doe, underwent a successful elective surgery at a California hospital and was later transferred to a private room. The woman was stable by midnight that day, but three hours later nurses found her unresponsive. A code blue was called and despite resuscitation efforts, Doe’s condition deteriorated. She died of cardiopulmonary arrest. Doe had been retired and was survived by her husband and two adult children.

The family of Doe sued the hospital and several nurses claiming that a malfunctioning medication pump had caused Doe to receive an overdose of morphine. In addition, the lawsuit claimed that an inadequate pulse oximetry alarms prevented the nurses from timely responding to Doe before she became unresponsive. The defendants denied that they had chosen not to attend to Doe’s hypoxia state in a timely fashion. Before trial, the parties settled for $375,000.

In some cases, morphine, which is an extremely potent pain drug, can give rise to severe and often deadly side effects for patients who have an intolerance to this drug.  There are many effective pain medication alternatives to the use of morphine for patients who have a history of harmful side effects.

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thA Cook County jury was deadlocked after four days of deliberation in a case in which the plaintiff claimed she underwent an unnecessary coronary bypass surgery. Maryann Giannetti was 52 years old when she underwent a stress test at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago. She claimed she was suffering “vague” chest tightness on Aug. 14, 2006. During the stress test, she experienced ventricular tachycardia, which can be potentially fatal because of the irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia. She experienced this condition while on a treadmill. A coronary angiogram was ordered.

The defendant, Dr. Uday Vyas, a cardiologist, and the defendant cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. William Bradshaw, interpreted the angiogram. They believed the angiogram showed 50% to 60% blockage of the opening of the left main coronary artery and 70% blockage of the proximal circumflex artery.

Because of the findings of blockage, the doctors ordered Giannetti to have a double coronary bypass surgery. She was never convinced that she needed the surgery and later showed the films to another cardiologist who told her there was no blockage whatsoever of any artery.

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thA Tuesday, July 15, 2014 a story in the Science section of the New York Times covered the circumstances in which doctors are faced with a dilemma in practice. They are reluctant to say to a patient or his or her family that they were sorry for a poor outcome in medical care. It has long been discussed whether doctors should approach patients and family members of patients to express regret or say the word “sorry” because of a bad outcome.

Many risk managers would stand in the way of doctors saying they were sorry for fear that those words might translate into an admission of wrongdoing, guilt and/or negligence.

The New York Times story, written by a physician, Abigail Zuger M.D., relates the medical issue to that of a plumber who worked in her home; a chain of events led to gushing water. Although the plumber wasn’t directly at fault for the problem, he happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time when he turned a bolt, screw or valve that was old and ready to break at anytime. The issue there was whether the plumber could have said “I’m sorry” without taking responsibility. The writer of this story wrote that saying, “I’m sorry” is not an expression of anything other than empathy and not an admission of fault.

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thLouis Davlantis, 58, underwent a left hip replacement. The orthopedic surgeon who did the surgery treated him for an infection the following month. He then followed up with primary care physician, Navneet Singh, M.D., who later cleared Davlantis for a right hip replacement.

About 3 months after the second surgery, Davlantis developed sepsis and other medical problems. The hip replacement hardware was then removed from both his right and left hips. As a result, Davlantis was unable to walk for 6 months. He subsequently underwent successful revision surgeries on both hips.

Davlantis filed a lawsuit against Dr. Singh alleging that he was negligent in clearing him for the second hip surgery when Davlantis displayed obvious signs of an ongoing infection such as an elevated sedimentation rate and high blood sugar.

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