Articles Posted in Hospital Negligence

Kara Smalls was delivered by way of a Cesarean section surgery at Ouachita County Medical Center. Two hours after her birth, Kara’s bilirubin level was 5.5, which is an indication of high risk of hyperbilirubinemia.

Hyperbilirubinemia is a condition in a newborn in which there is too much bilirubin in the blood. When red blood cells break down, a substance known as bilirubin is formed. Babies are not easily able to rid themselves of bilirubin, and it can build up in the blood and other tissues of a baby’s body. The symptoms of hyperbilirubinemia are jaundice, which includes yellow tinged skin and the whites of the eyes, normally starting at the head and spreading down the body. The baby can also run a fever or be fatigued. Other symptoms include weight loss, vomiting and paler than usual stools. Jaundice in a newborn is fairly common, particularly in babies born before 38 weeks gestation or preterm babies.Infant jaundice occurs most times because the baby’s liver isn’t mature enough to rid itself of bilirubin in the bloodstream.

In this case, over the next two days, nurses noted that Kara was mildly jaundiced. Nevertheless, the family physician, Dr. Jonathan Lewis, discharged the baby instructing her mother that everything was normal and that she should follow up with him in ten days.
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An appeal from the Circuit Court of Franklin County, Mo., ended up in the Missouri Supreme Court on the issue of a disqualifying motion of a juror who was alleged to have been biased. This was a medical malpractice lawsuit against Mercy Hospitals.

On March 13, 2013, the plaintiffs, Thaddeus Thomas, a minor, by his next friend and mother, Marlin Thomas, filed a medical negligence lawsuit in connection with the Cesarean section delivery. In the lawsuit, it was claimed that Baby Thaddeus suffered brain damage as a result of the negligence of the hospital’s medical providers before and during the labor and delivery.

During voir dire, jury selection, the Thomas attorney informed the venire panel, “[T]his case involves Mercy Clinics Physicians as the defendant and Mercy Clinic Hospital. Just knowing that they are defendants in this case, is there anyone that feels they might start off the case a little bit more in favor of one party or the other?”
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Karla Fountaine received prenatal care from a general practitioner, the defendant Dr. Cheryl Gill. At the time, she was 34 years old. During her pregnancy, she developed gestational diabetes.

When she began bleeding and suffering from increased blood pressure and headache, she was admitted to a hospital but shortly thereafter she was sent home. At 34 weeks gestation, she was readmitted to the hospital with continuing headaches and spiking blood pressure. She passed out in the hospital. An obstetrician delivered her baby.

Fountains suffered brain damage and subsequently died after the birth of her child. She was a former auto worker who had been retraining for another position. She was survived by her husband, an infant son and two other minor children.
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Vonshelle Brothers received her prenatal care, including a Pap smear, at the Brevard County Health Department. A cytopathologist allegedly interpreted the Pap smear as having cellular changes consistent with the herpes simplex virus. However, a health department nurse reported that the test was normal. Her obstetrician did not look at the actual Pap smear and Brothers was not notified of the cytopathologist’s findings.

About seven months later, Brothers delivered her baby vaginally. Two weeks later the child was diagnosed with herpetic meningoencephalitis, which led to profound brain damage. This child is now 6 years old. She has developmental delays, speech and vision problems and difficulty walking.

Brothers filed a lawsuit against the health department alleging that its employees chose not to diagnose the herpes simplex virus and prevent Brothers from transmitting the virus to her unborn child by performing a Cesarean section. There were other allegations of preventative medical attention that could have prevented and avoided the predictable outcome. Before trial, the parties settled the case for $3.2 million.
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In this medical malpractice case, an appeal was taken by the plaintiff after a jury verdict was entered in favor of the defendant, Mercy Hospitals East, claiming that the trial court abused its discretion. The claim was made that the court chose not to strike for cause a venireperson after she expressed during voir dire a disqualifying bias in favor of Mercy. She stated that she would “start off slightly in favor” of Mercy in this case because her sister was a registered nurse at another Mercy facility.

Since this venireperson served on the jury in this case, the appellate court reversed and remanded for a new trial because the appeals panel found that the venireperson’s stated bias disqualified her from jury service on this case and she was not subsequently rehabilitated.

The original lawsuit stemmed from allegations that the hospital providers were negligent in connection with the Cesarean-section delivery of Thaddeus Thomas, resulting in brain damage to the newborn. The case proceeded to trial on March 16, 2015 and a jury returned a verdict for Mercy Hospital on March 26, 2015. The only issue on appeal was asserted that the trial court committed reversible error when it denied the plaintiffs’ motion to strike the venireperson for cause, who was later seated as a juror and took part in the verdict in this case.
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Irena Dujmovic-Terman was seven weeks pregnant when she began prenatal care with the defendant obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Elliot Levine on Feb. 1, 2008. She was 37 years old at the time. Because of her advanced maternal age, Dr. Levine recommended genetic testing for fetal anomalies. The patient agreed at her 11-week visit.

The blood draw for the quad screen test was planned for the 15-week visit on March 27, 2008, but Dr. Levine’s staff chose not to perform the blood draw at that time, giving no explanation.
Dr. Levine later took the first quad screen blood draw on April 24, 2008. The test results came back from the lab on April 29 showing a high risk of fetal anomaly (trisomy 21 Down syndrome) and thus Dr. Levine signed off on them on May 2. Dujmovic-Terman was not informed of the results during the next three weeks.

Dr. Levine finally told her about the results at her next visit on May 22 when she was 23 weeks pregnant. Dr. Levine ordered an amniocentesis at Weiss Memorial Hospital, which was scheduled for June 3, the next available appointment. However, Dr. Levine chose not to tell the patient that a legal abortion would not be available in Illinois once she passed gestation of 23 weeks and 6 days. He also failed to order the amniocentesis on an expedited basis.
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Shamir Tillery was 11 months old when he went to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia emergency room. Shamir was suffering from fever and breathing difficulties. The hospital and emergency room staff diagnosed an upper respiratory infection or pneumonia and sent him home.

The next day, Shamir was returned to the Children’s Hospital with worsened symptoms. This included increased fever, irritability, increased pulse and respiration rates, dehydration and lethargy. The emergency room physician, Dr. Monika Goyal, ordered chest X-rays, ruled out pneumonia and upper respiratory infection and again sent Shamir home with instructions to follow up with his pediatrician.

The following day, Shamir returned to the same hospital. Over the next several hours he was examined and received a diagnosis of possible pneumonia or bacterial infection. More than 6 hours after he arrived at Children’s Hospital, he underwent a lumbar puncture that revealed bacterial meningitis. The late diagnosis and treatment was devastating. Shamir is now 6 years old. He suffers from brain damage and a profound hearing loss.
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Christina Yarbrough and David Goodpaster brought a medical negligence lawsuit against Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) and Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation (NMFF) after the premature birth of their daughter, Hayley Joe Goodpaster. This case came to the Illinois Appellate Court by the request of NMH regarding the doctrine of apparent authority in the medical negligence context. The trial court certified a question of law pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 308.

The question was this: “Can a hospital be held vicariously liable under the doctrine of apparent agency set forth in Gilbert v. Sycamore Mun. Hosp., 156 Ill.2d 511 (Ill. 1993), and its progeny for the acts of the employees of an unrelated, independent clinic that is not a party to the present litigation?”

The case involved Christina Yarbrough, who believed she was pregnant. She went to Erie Family Health Center Inc. (Erie) a federally funded, not-for-profit clinic on Nov. 14, 2005 after searching the Internet for a nearby clinic offering free pregnancy testing. After receiving a positive pregnancy test, healthcare workers at Erie inquired where Yarbrough would receive prenatal care. Yarbrough was advised that if she obtained prenatal care from Erie, she would deliver at NMH and would receive testing and additional care at NMH, including ultrasounds. She was given a pamphlet and a flyer with information regarding scheduling tours and classes at NMH. The plaintiffs in this case alleged that based on her knowledge of NMH’s reputation and the information provided by Erie, Yarbrough believed that if she received prenatal care from Erie, she would be receiving treatment from NMH health care workers.
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In a significant birth trauma injury case, the mother was given Pitocin while in delivery at the hospital. Labor was more than 14 hours. It was managed by two resident physicians and an attending physician. There were signs of uterine hyperstimulation, which was alleged to have occurred hours before the delivery and followed by hours of obvious fetal distress.

According to the report on this case, a nurse told one of the residents that the fetal monitoring signs indicated fetal distress.  However, even with this information, the physician allegedly concluded there was no fetal distress and instead increased the dose of Pitocin. The nurse reported the fetal monitoring signs of distress to her supervisor who then contacted a more senior resident and the attending physician who then stopped the administration of Pitocin.

The baby was later delivered with the assistance of forceps. At the baby’s delivery, the APGAR scores of 3 at 1 minute and 5 at 5 minutes were charted. The baby, who’s now nearing 7 years old, had suffered a brain injury from inadequate oxygen.

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Daniel Cantu was 3 months old when he was brought to Walker Baptist Medical Center’s emergency room suffering from fever, crying, fussiness, tachycardia, diarrhea and other symptoms. He underwent a physical examination, a chest x-ray and a flu test, which were all reported to be negative. Daniel was diagnosed as having an upper respiratory infection and was discharged.

That same night, Daniel’s condition worsened. He was returned to the hospital the next day and was noted to have additional symptoms such as vomiting, dehydration and a sunken fontanelle as well as weight loss. Testing at the hospital revealed many abnormalities, including impaired liver function and white blood cell levels.

Pediatrician Dr. James Wilbanks examined Daniel the following day and ordered flu tests, IV fluids and Tylenol on an as-needed basis. Two days later, Daniel was discharged again. He was then brought to another pediatrician who ordered an immediate lumbar puncture. The lumbar puncture showed that Daniel was likely suffering from bacterial meningitis, a diagnosis that was later confirmed. Daniel was hospitalized for about one month and now, at the age of 6, suffers from a seizure disorder, blindness, deafness and other problems.

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