imagesOn Jan. 8, 2008, Nicole Yerkovich, who was 35 at the time, was taken by ambulance to the emergency department at LaGrange Memorial Hospital because of severe abdominal pain and nausea. The ER doctor at the hospital ordered a contrast CT scan of her abdomen and pelvis to see if she was suffering from an appendicitis attack. The CT scan was initially read by a teleradiologist who reported she could not visualize the appendix and therefore could not rule out appendicitis. The teleradiologist recommended the hospital’s doctors obtain the delayed images to get better visualizations of the appendix and noted a moderate amount of free fluid in the pelvis, which could have been due to a ruptured cyst.

The following morning, the in-house radiologist, Dr. Vladislav Gorengaut, reviewed the same CT scan and reported there were no definite findings to suggest appendicitis. He noted there were ascites, which may be caused by peritonitis, and there could be a gynecological issue such as a ruptured hemorrhagic ovarian cyst. Ascites refer to the accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity in the abdominal area.

Based upon the first report of Dr. Gorengaut, the emergency department doctor canceled the delayed CT scan and instead admitted Yerkovich to gynecology and ordered a pelvic ultrasound. Dr. Gorengaut read the ultrasound and reported there was echogenic fluid most likely representing blood from a ruptured ovarian cyst.

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images-1Anthony Bausal was transported by ambulance to the emergency department at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, Ill., on Sept. 20, 2008. Bausal had a cellulitis infection in his left leg, increased pain and shortness of breath. He also had underlying conditions of lupus nephritis, cardiomyopathy and chronic anemia.

Bausal, 34, was admitted into the hospital, where additional testing showed that he had a dangerously low cardiac ejection fraction of 20-25% (55% is considered normal), which is the measure of how the well or poorly the heart is pumping out blood through the body. He also had acute anemia and a gastric ulcer with erosive gastritis of the stomach.

One of the defendants, a general surgeon, Dr. Darryl Fernandes, was consulted on Sept. 25, 2008 because of concern about an infectious process in Bausal’s left leg.

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images-4At issue in this South Carolina Supreme Court case was whether the medical malpractice statute of repose applied to indemnify the claim of Columbia/CSA-HS Greater Columbia Healthcare System — also known as Providence Hospital. The trial court in the Court of Appeals in South Carolina held that it does and thus barred the indemnity action brought by Providence Hospital. Because the statute of repose barred the indemnify action brought by the Providence Hospital, the Supreme Court of South Carolina affirmed the lower court’s and the appellate court’s decision.

In 1997, Dr. Michael Hayes and Dr. Michael Taillon were working as emergency room physicians at Providence Hospital as independent contractors. Arthur Sharpe came to Providence Hospital in the emergency room on the same date. He was complaining of chest pain. Drs. Hayes and Taillon evaluated Sharpe and diagnosed him as suffering from gastric reflux. Sharpe was then discharged from the hospital; in fact, he had actually suffered a heart attack. That heart attack was determined a few days later when he went to seek other medical care.

Because of the misdiagnosis, on May 25, 1999, Sharpe and his wife filed a medical malpractice and loss of consortium suit against Providence Hospital and Dr. Hayes. The Sharpes did not name Dr. Taillon as a defendant. Providence Hospital settled with the Sharpes on June 10, 2004.

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images-2In what appears to be a change in 100 years of law, the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta has ruled that Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines can be successfully sued for medical malpractice by passengers who have been negligently injured or killed by the ship medical providers.

The federal appeals court refused to reconsider the decision that essentially opens the doors for cruise ship passengers to sue cruise lines for medical malpractice.

In a hearing that was held in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, Ga., the appeals court rejected a bid by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines to revisit its ruling. The court noted that none of the 11th circuit judges voted in support of reconsideration.

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imagesIn Illinois, legislation has been passed three times to limit recoveries in medical negligence claims. Each time the Illinois Supreme Court has overturned such restrictions on the ground that they are unconstitutional. Missouri is going through the same exercise once again. About ten years ago, Missouri last limited some civil lawsuit awards, but the Missouri Supreme Court overturned the legislation.

Now businesses can face lawsuits with unlimited punitive damages and civil injury lawsuits after the Missouri Supreme Court struck down a $500,000 limit on awards in September 2014, two years after striking down other limits for medical-malpractice awards.

It has been reported that business groups and Republican leaders there want the decision striking down limits for medical-malpractice rewards to be reversed and now are attempting a state constitutional amendment to ensure the court cannot interfere with caps again. “Missouri will continue to be a judicial hellhole” if caps are not put in place, said Senate Majority Floor Leader Ron Richard of Joplin, Mo. Richard says his constitutional amendment effort capping punitive damages is his top priority for the current senate session.

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imagesThe Illinois Supreme Court is about to entertain two cases that may have great impact on how medical-malpractice cases are handled. In the case of Klaine v. Southern Illinois Hospital Services, the state Supreme Court will decide whether  a doctor’s application for hospital privileges to practice at a particular hospital are privileged and cannot be produced in discovery.

In this case, Carol Klaine filed a medical-malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Frederick Dreesen claiming that she was injured after a colon surgery performed by the doctor. Klaine also filed a claim against Southern Illinois Hospital Services alleging negligent credentialing of Dr. Dreesen.

During the discovery process, Klaine wanted the documents that Dr. Dreesen submitted as part of his application for staff privileges at Southern Illinois Hospital. The documents requested included information about his work history, claims history and insurance history, as well as the history of decisions and recommendations on his prior applications for hospital privileges.

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rotate_Hines_340x210John Dux was alleged to have committed suicide because of a medical-malpractice incident at the Hines Veterans Administration Hospital in Maywood, Ill. The lawsuit brought by his daughter was filed against the United States government under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which included a claim for wrongful death.

The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The U.S. district judge who considered the case had to decide whether Illinois precedent on proximate causation blocked the wrongful-death claim.

With two exceptions, Illinois follows the traditional rule that “a plaintiff may not recover for a decedent’s suicide following a tortious act because suicide is an independent intervening event that the tortfeasor cannot be expected to foresee.” Luss v. Village of Forest Park, 377 Ill.App.3d 318 (2007).

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images-1On June 13, 2005, Raymond Jackson, then 50, was admitted to. Provena St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Ill., for intractable back pain. He had a pre-existing condition of spine problems and was suffering from an unstable fracture of the T-12 vertebrae, which was not timely diagnosed and treated and caused him to sustain permanent paraplegia by 8 a.m. on June 16, 2005. He died of related causes in 2008.

His medical malpractice lawsuit against several of the defendants settled for $2.77 million in 2012, which included $2.5 million from Provena Hospitals on behalf of its employee nurses and an outside nursing contractor.

The lawsuit had included allegations that after a flat bedrest order was entered at 5 p.m. on June 15, the nursing staff chose not to follow the doctor’s orders to keep the patient on flat bedrest and chose not to prevent him from moving during the next 15 hours, which caused or contributed to the hematoma that was found compressing his spinal cord.

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thMary Mitchell underwent a total abdominal hysterectomy, but the doctor chose not to employ the appropriate prophylactic measures to prevent deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism that was alleged to have caused or contributed to her untimely and unfortunate death.. The doctor who did the surgery, Dr. Amalendu Majumdar was an obstetrician-gynecologist. When this patient flashed signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism during the post-op visit that he made on Nov. 20, 2004, he did not recognize and/or treat the signs and symptoms of this emergency.

As a result of Dr. Majumdar’s failings, Mitchell, who was only 43 years old, died the next day from extensive bilateral pulmonary emboli. She is survived by her husband and two children, ages 14 and 24.

The defendant doctor contended that he complied with the medical standard of care, that he did provide proper intra-operative and post-operative prophylaxis and that the patient did not exhibit “classic’ signs of a pulmonary embolism at the post-op visit on Nov. 20.

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thLatasha Randall was admitted on June 1, 2010 to Vista East Medical Center in Waukegan, Ill., and was diagnosed with sepsis. Shortly after her admission, she suffered respiratory failure and was intubated.

On June 22, 2010, the defendant general surgeon, Dr. Laurence Gibson, performed an open tracheostomy and was assisted by his physician partner, Dr. Aaron Siegel.

After the procedure, 37-year-old Randall’s face was noticeably swollen and post-op x-rays showed subcutaneous emphysema (air outside lungs, under the skin). Three days later, her attending physician transferred her to Kindred Hospital in Chicago for management of her ventilation, but with a grim prognosis due to her sepsis and other lethal illnesses.

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