Articles Posted in Medical Negligence

The Illinois Appellate Court has affirmed the general verdict in a second jury trial. The first jury trial resulted in a hung jury.

The plaintiff’s decedent had been admitted at a young age to multiple nursing homes and hospitals with an incurable, fatal neurodegenerative disease. The estate for the plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against one of the decedent’s treating physicians, maintaining actual claims under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act and the Survival Act.

The plaintiff’s estate alleged that the decedent was abused and neglected at her last nursing home, which defendant chose not to report.

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Leona Smith, the mother of Perry Powell, was appointed guardian of her son’s person but not his estate after a judge ruled that Powell was disabled because of severe mental disability. Powell’s father died, allegedly because of medical malpractice. Attorneys were hired by Smith, who then acted as special administrator of the decedent’s estate to litigate a wrongful-death claim for her deceased husband, Powell’s father.

The wrongful-death medical malpractice case was settled, but the lawyers who handled it failed to follow the requirements of Section 2.1 of the Illinois Wrongful Death Act.

Powell would have shared in the settlement proceeds, which exceeded $5,000. According to Section 2.1 of the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, the probate court must be in charge of supervising the administration and distribution of those funds.

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On Aug. 7, 2008, Frosini Xeniotis was evaluated by an oral surgeon, Dr. Cynthia Satko. One of Xeniotis’s baby teeth had never fallen out, and her adult tooth had grown in behind it. The result was just simply “not aesthetically pleasing” to Xeniotis.

Xeniotis was referred to Dr. Satko by her primary dentist. To improve the condition, an oral surgeon would have to remove both the baby tooth and the adult tooth and fill the remaining space. Dr. Satko recommended an implant during this initial consultation.

The procedure described by Dr. Satko involved surgically inserting a titanium screw into the bone and then attaching an artificial tooth to the screw. Under the best of circumstances, this procedure would have been followed by a dental crown. Xeniotis agreed with the plan, and the next day Dr. Satko removed the two teeth and inserted the implant. Over the following year and half, the artificial tooth failed to fully afix into Xeniotis’s jaw.

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Often an obstetrician will order levels of medicine to induce labor and the medication may lead to obstetrical malpractice. A treating obstetrician may be found to be negligent by prescribing doses of labor induction medication, such as oxytocin, that may induce or augment labor, but may lead to serious birth injuries to the unborn fetus.  Oxytocin is a natural hormone found in humans, but the synthetic version is prescribed to help with contractions in the second and third stages of labor.

The use of what are known as high-alert or off-label medications to ripen the cervix or induce and augment labor can result in the mother’s contractions being too strong or too frequent or even too long, which may cause serious and permanent damage to the fetus. 

Accordingly, medical professionals in labor and delivery should be clear on understanding uterine activity and its effect on the fetus’s ability to be oxygenated. In addition, as is usually the case, the fetus’s heart rate must be monitored.

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Three-month-old Emma Takacs developed a poor appetite. She had a fever that was in excess of 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Emma’s mom and dad took her to a hospital’s emergency room where a nurse documented Emma’s abnormal vital signs and fussiness.

An emergency department doctor, Duane Siberski, M.D., examined Emma. Dr. Siberski diagnosed an ear infection.  Emma was discharged with a prescription for an oral antibiotic and her parents were given instructions to take her to see a pediatrician, if needed.

A few days later, Emma was found to be lethargic and her skin was cool to the touch. Emma’s parents brought her to another hospital where she was diagnosed as having bacterial meningitis, a hypoxic brain injury and hydrocephalous.  Hydrocephalous is a medical term for what is known as “water on the brain.”  The condition is one in which an abnormal accumulation of cerebral spinal fluid lodges in the ventricles or cavities of the brain. It can be caused by and is connected with the bacterial meningitis that results in an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and the spinal cord. That tissue is called “meninges.”  Acute bacterial meningitis is a very serious condition.

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Following an automobile accident, Cody Wade, 17, was hospitalized. The injuries he suffered in the car crash led the hospital’s staff to place a tracheostomy tube to help with Cody’s breathing. A tracheostomy is a surgical procedure in which a doctor creates an opening through the neck to the patient’s windpipe or trachea. The tube is placed through that opening to give the patient an airway and to allow for the removal of other secretions from the lungs. The tube itself is called a tracheostomy tube or a trach tube.

About a month after the tracheostomy, a hospital staff person removed the trach tube in anticipation of Cody’s transferral to a rehabilitation hospital. When the tube was removed, Cody experienced tachycardia and labored breathing. Tachycardia is a condition of rapid heartbeat. Generally, a resting heart rate over 100 beats per minute is considered tachycardic. 

Because of Cody’s condition, the trach tube was reinserted. Medical tests revealed that there was swelling in Cody’s airway.

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Birth injury lawsuits are brought because of the catastrophic damage to an infant during or immediately after childbirth. One of the more significant injuries to a baby is cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is described as a group of disorders of the development of movement and posture, causing activity limitations that are associated with injury to the developing fetus or infant brain. Motor disorders of cerebral palsy are often accompanied by disturbances of sensation, cognition, communication, perception, behavior and seizure disorder.

When a child is damaged at birth by the negligence of an obstetrician, gynecologist or other medical practitioner, these defendants often turn to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and their supporters to defend these cases. Many of the defenses presented are based on published documents that are used by experts in the cases that are unscientific, yet are designed to negate a causal relationship between asphyxia and cerebral palsy.

Asphyxia is a major cause of cerebral palsy (CP), but these experts present testimony that would prevent a plaintiff family from proving that their child’s brain damage was caused by asphyxia. 

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Sandy Parrish, the administrator of the estate of Karen Parrish, filed a wrongful-death and survival action against physician Michael Jones, D.O., and other medical providers. The suit stemmed from what was alleged to be the negligent care of Karen Parrish, resulting in her death. 

On Dec. 30, 2004, Parrish was admitted to Adena Regional Medical Center and diagnosed with an acute peripheral-nerve disorder. She was then transferred to a rehabilitation center and was under the care of another defendant physician, Christopher Skocik, D.O. 

In the lawsuit, the Parrish family alleged that the medical staff treating Karen had been negligent by choosing not to prescribe the appropriate anti-coagulation therapy. It was further alleged in the complaint that as a direct and proximate result of that negligence, Karen died prematurely suffering a cardiopulmonary arrest and hypoxia due to a pulmonary emboli with saddle embolus and deep-vein thrombosis.

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Leona and Perry Smith were the co-guardians of the person, but not of the estate, of a profoundly disabled son, Perry Powell. A medical malpractice case was first initiated by Leona Smith related to the death of her husband, Perry Smith, which ended because of alleged legal malpractice. The issue in this appellate court case was whether an attorney-client relationship with Perry Powell, the disabled son of the decedent, was available. 

The legal malpractice case was brought in the name of a public guardian and was later dismissed. At the trial court level, the judge concluded that the lawyers hired by Leona owed no duty to Perry Powell, the disabled son of the decedent.

In reversing, the appellate court said, “An attorney litigates a wrongful-death action for the exclusive benefit of the next-of-kin and owes that party a duty even though the next-of-kin did not execute a retainer agreement with the attorneys.”

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The standard cliché is that hindsight is always 20-20, but sometimes that old cliché proves true. Such is the case in the medical malpractice suit involving a man who went to his doctor complaining of indigestion. He was sent home with a prescription for an antacid medication, when he should have been referred to the local emergency room. Two hours after the initial visit to his doctor, the man died of cardiac arrest. Subsequently, a jury in Cook County found the doctor guilty of medical malpractice.
The case was reported in the Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter.
This suit stems from a Jan. 26, 2007 case involving W.H., who went to his internist, Dr. Wayne Blake at Hope Medical in Blue Island. W.H. complained of mid-chest discomfort, cough and some sweating. All of his vital signs were normal, however, and he reported his discomfort was relieved by belching. W.H. had a previous history of heart disease, with angioplasties and stenting, so the doctor ordered an EKG. Results of the EKG appeared normal and similar to an EKG performed the year before.

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