images-1In a confidential arbitration and settlement, Mr. Doe, age 64, suffered severe injuries in a car accident. Doe was taken to a hospital where he was diagnosed as having angle closure glaucoma, a condition in which the iris bulges forward to block the eye’s drainage system. Mr. Doe was given drops, a topical steroid, and an antibiotic. For several days, the doctors continued to watch Mr. Doe determining that he was not yet a candidate for eye surgery due to his weakened physical condition caused by the car accident.

About 2 ½ weeks after the car crash, Mr. Doe was discharged with instructions to follow up with an eye clinic in two weeks. However, Mr. Doe’s vision deteriorated, and he was later taken to a hospital emergency room. At that hospital he underwent emergency bilateral iridotomies. A laser iridotomy uses a focused beam of light making a hole on the outer edge or rim of the iris. The opening allows fluid to flow between the front part of the eye and the area behind the iris. The iridotomy is also the procedure used in angle closure glaucoma patients. Despite this intervention, Mr. Doe now has a lack of light perception in his left eye and only the ability to count fingers at four feet in his right eye.

Mr. Doe brought this lawsuit against the ophthalmologist who supervised his care at the hospital claiming the doctor chose not to properly treat the angle closure glaucoma by, among other things, ordering frequent checks of his intraocular pressures, performing timely laser iridotomies, examining him in the days before his discharge from the hospital and arranging for immediate follow-up care. Mr. Doe did not claim any lost income. At an arbitration, Mr. Doe received an award of $3 million for his damages. The attorney representing Mr. Doe was Kevin Donius.

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imagesKent Higgins inhaled chlorine gas at the Holiday World Amusement Park when the ride he was on malfunctioned. Higgins suffered chronic asthma and reactive airways dysfunction syndrome, or RADS, as a result of the alleged negligence of the defendant, Koch Development, the owner of Holiday World Amusement Park.

Higgins, the plaintiff, hired a causation expert physician, but the doctor was barred. The issue was whether this expert could be substituted with his treating pulmonologist to act as his expert under the guidelines of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993).

The trial judge barred Higgins’s causation expert. He then offered up his treating pulmonologist to act as his expert on causation. The district court judge found that the treating physician was unqualified to opine on the effect chlorine gas has on the human pulmonary system. The basis of the barring was under the Daubert criteria and methodology, which was found to be too uncertain to determine its reliability.

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dsc_5632-e1376685182828-150x150Koni Johnson filed suit against two emergency physicians and their employer, Cook County, alleging the doctors were negligent in their treatment of her spinal cord injury. She had gone to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, a/k/a Cook County Hospital a day after she slipped and fell injuring her back.

Johnson alleged that the county violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (42 U.S.C. Section 1395dd) by choosing not to provide appropriate screening and to stabilize her medical condition before discharging her.

Cook County, which owns and operates Stroger Hospital, requested summary judgment based on Sections 6-105 and 6-106 of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act. The defendants argued they had provided appropriate treatment for the condition the emergency room doctors diagnosed, which was muscle spasm and back and buttocks bruises.

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images-2On April 29, 2004, 36-year-old Tamara Greico sprained her ankle during a bowling match. She was diagnosed in the emergency room of a hospital with a severe ankle sprain. She had wrapped it and was given crutches and told to keep her ankle elevated before being referred to an Alton, Ill., clinic.

The physician’s assistant and medical assistant at the clinic testified at the jury trial that they saw Tamara the next day and made a similar diagnosis while also giving her a walking boot, medication and instruction for exercising the ankle. Tamara returned to the clinic on May 5, 2004 complaining of more pain and numbness in her toes. A physician and one of the defendants, Dr. Bruce Vest, testified that he examined her and considered the possibility that she had a deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot, but ruled it out and did not order anticoagulant therapy.

Two days later, Tamara’s employer found her lying on the ground near her car in the office parking lot, lapsing in and out of consciousness. She was taken to the hospital where she complained of breathing problems before going into cardiac arrest.

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images-1Brett L., 12, underwent a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy at a children’s’ hospital. After the procedure, Brett was extubated and transferred to the hospital’s post-anesthesia care unit (PACU).

Over the next 90 minutes, Brett‘s parents noticed that he was snoring. A nurse refused the parents’ request that Brett be repositioned. The parents then sought other help and found a nurse’s aide who turned Brett over to find that he was not breathing at all.

Despite resuscitation efforts, Brett died. He was survived by his parents and two siblings.

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imagesThis case was resolved in a confidential settlement. It dealt with an injury to a 50-year-old woman who underwent a hysterectomy performed by an obstetrician. During the surgery, it was revealed that a surgical sponge was missing. The doctor then performed a cystoscopy to examine the woman’s bladder and also repaired the bladder, which had been torn during the hysterectomy.

The obstetrician failed to notice that the woman’s ureters had been sutured closed during the bladder repair. The ureter is the tube that takes urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder. There are two ureters. Each of the two ureters is attached to a kidney.

The woman suffered damage to both kidneys because of the sutured closed ureters and now suffers from frequent urinary tract infections and urinary stress incontinence.

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images-2Gwendolyn Brown was a 50-year-old woman who had been suffering from back pain. She underwent three epidural steroid injections that were given by a pain specialist, Dr. Dennis Doherty, at the Southeastern Pain Ambulatory Surgery Center. During the third epidural procedure, which was done under conscious sedation, it became difficult for the doctor and assistants to maintain Brown’s airway, and she stopped breathing for periods of times. Dr. Doherty and his nursing assistant continued with the procedure, even though his patient was not breathing from time to time.

Brown was later transferred to a hospital where she was diagnosed as having severe anoxic brain damage, which is the condition that follows a period of time when the brain is not fully or sufficiently oxygenated. Most severely brain damaged patients lose many cognitive and motor functions that include speech, sight, walking and other extremely debilitating deficits. Unfortunately, Brown died six years later. She was survived by her husband and three adult children.

Brown’s husband on behalf of her estate and family sued the surgery center, Dr. Doherty and his employer for medical negligence alleging failure to timely respond to an emergency situation during the epidural procedure — that period of time when Brown was unable to breath. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants should have turned Brown over from the prone position, provided a bag mask and started CPR in light of her critical oxygen status.

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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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