Danute Paulaviciene, 57, came to the office of the defendant internist, Dr. Edmund Vizinas, on Dec. 27, 2008 complaining of fever, shortness of breath and poor sleep. She had recently visited the caves in Missouri. On examination, she was noted to have a fever of 100.5 degrees, pulse of 110, respirations of 16 and 94 percent oxygen saturation level.
Dr. Vizinas ordered a chest x-ray, complete blood count and metabolic profile. The patient returned to Dr. Vizinas two days later and told him she was feeling better and had no shortness of breath on exertion. Her temperature was normal. Dr. Vizinas told her that her chest x-ray revealed extensive bilateral infiltrates, her complete blood count was essentially normal with a normal white count and a slight rise in neutrophils and her metabolic profile showed slightly decreased albumin, elevated sedimentation rate, slightly decreased total cholesterol and slightly elevated liver function.
Dr. Vizinas started her on Avelox, an antibiotic given for community acquired pneumonia. On Dec. 31, Paulaviciene’s daughter-in-law checked on her at 4 a.m. and found that she had a fever, but by 6 a.m., it had come down. At 8 a.m. she was coughing but not gasping or having difficulty breathing. However, by 9 a.m., she was extremely short of breath, gasping and unable to speak. She was rushed to Edward Hospital in Naperville, Ill., with severe shortness of breath and 82 percent oxygen saturation levels while on oxygen. She was sent to the ICU at the hospital and placed on a ventilator. Her condition never improved, and she died 11 days later survived by her adult son and a daughter who lives in Lithuania.
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