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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visual-guide-to-stroke-s1-diagram-cerebral-arteryA confidential settlement was reached with a physician for the injuries suffered by a patient after the physician neglected to rush the patient to a hospital. The 44-year-old woman patient suffered from mild hypertension and took birth control pills. After developing a migraine, she vomited violently.

The next day the patient experienced heaviness and limpness in her upper left arm and tingling and numbness in her entire left hand. That evening she called her doctor who was her primary care physician. The patient alleged that the doctor told her to take two Advil. The next morning the patient was unable to move. She was transported to a hospital where studies showed that she had suffered a mild cerebral artery infarct, a stroke.

The patient now suffers from aphasia and partial paralysis on her left side. She had been an accounting supervisor, but is now unable to work.

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th-2Walter Mankowski was diagnosed with Stage IV gastric carcinoma that had spread to his liver. Mankowski was 63 years old on March 3, 2009 when he was given that poor outlook diagnosis.

His treating oncologist told him that he had about 10 months to live with chemotherapy. His family searched for alternative treatment options and found the defendant, Keith Nemec, D.C., after doing an internet search. The defendant doctor Nemec, a chiropractor, had a website that claimed that “treatment at his facility could cure any and all diseases, including cancer by restoring the body to its natural state so God says that could cure the disease.”

Mankowski and his family decided to defer chemotherapy and instead he was admitted to the Total Health Institute in Wheaton, Ill., Nemec’s clinic, on March 23, 2009. Mankowski was there for a 3-4 week inpatient program. His treatment consisted of colonic hydrotherapy supplements that were designed to cleanse the body and a restricted diet of seed milk, vegetable juice and spinach soup.

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th-2In this medical malpractice case, plaintiff Daniel Hemminger sued defendants Jeffrey LeMay, M.D., and his medical practice for damages related to the death of Hemminger’s wife, Tina. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants chose not to diagnose and treat her cervical cancer in a timely fashion, which caused her death by lessening her chance of survival. At the close of the plaintiff’s case, the trial judge granted the defendants’ motion for directed verdict finding that Hemminger had failed to present sufficient evidence to show that Dr. LeMay’s negligence was the proximate cause of the woman’s death under a lost chance of survival theory. Hemminger took this appeal.

Tina Hemminger saw Dr. LeMay, an obstetrician/gynecologist, on June 23, 2000 complaining of abdominal pain and spotting. Dr. LeMay completed a pelvic examination, which showed that her cervix was abnormally large and firm. There was no biopsy ordered. Dr. LeMay did not order a microscopic examination of her cervix. About 6 months later, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Her cancer was Stage 3B, which has a 5-year survival rate of 32%. She died of metastatic cervical cancer on April 7, 2002.

Her husband sued Dr. LeMay for medical negligence claiming that he was negligent in choosing not to order tests that would have detected his wife’s cervical cancer in 2000. The lawsuit further alleged that had Dr. LeMay diagnosed the cancer in June 2000 rather than in December 2000, she would have had a significantly better chance of surviving the cancer.

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th-5Ethel Bolton had been a resident of Glenshire Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Richton Park, Ill. She was there from 2001 until 2006. During the years 2004 through 2006, she was cared for by internist Dr. Lance Wallace.

On July 7, 2005, Bolton had an abnormal albumin level of 3.2, which is a sign of malnutrition.

Beginning on Sept. 30, 2005, Bolton also had skin breakdowns and bedsores, which worsened over the next four months. On Jan. 29, 2006, Bolton’s daughter, Margaret, noticed at the nursing home that her mother was naked in a backroom in a general state of neglect showing signs of malnutrition, dehydration, emaciation and multiple areas of skin breakdown and bedsores.

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th-3Katherine Crawford was admitted to Westlake Community Hospital for shortness of breath and hypotension following an arterial venous fistula repair surgery of Sept. 17, 2005. She was 38 years old and was an end-stage renal disease patient. Crawford had been on dialysis for 11 years. Her medical history also included COPD, obstructive sleep apnea, chronic hypotension, hypertension and pulmonary hypertension.

The defendant internist, Dr. Karim Yunez, was the attending physician for the hospitalization of Sept. 17, 2005 and had previously treated Crawford during prior admissions to the hospital.

The defendant nephrologist, Dr. Constantine Dellis, was consulted to handle the patient’s dialysis needs during her hospitalization.

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th-2Maria Lastra-Rico was 45 years old when she underwent a breast biopsy. A pathologist interpreted the test as showing invasive ductal carcinoma; she underwent a double mastectomy with lymph node resection and subsequent surgical reconstruction.

She later learned that she in fact had ductal carcinoma in situ, which is noninvasive ductal carcinoma.

Lastra-Rico sued the pathologist and the pathologists’ supervisor who provided a second opinion claiming liability for the misdiagnosis. Lastra-Rico then maintained that had the defendants performed a staining procedure to confirm and ensure the proper diagnosis, she would have undergone a lumpectomy and radiation and avoided the mastectomies altogether. The lawsuit did not claim lost income. After the jury trial, the jury entered a verdict in the defendant’s favor in the amount of $2,230,000.

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thCharles Blevins, 63, underwent outpatient arthroscopic knee surgery. Four days after the surgery, Blevins went to a hospital emergency room complaining of fever and a hot and swollen knee. He was diagnosed as having pseudomonas infection and required hospitalization for one month; during that time he received IV antibiotics.

The infection, however, destroyed Blevins’s right knee joint, which necessitated a total knee replacement and required revision about a year later.

Blevins filed a lawsuit against the surgical center alleging the use of unsterile surgical instruments. According to Blevins’s lawsuit, at least 3 other patients contracted the same type of infection during the 10-day period surrounding his surgery. The lawsuit did not claim lost income.

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