In this medical malpractice lawsuit, injuries were suffered by the plaintiff, Lisa Swift, during a 2010 laparoscopic hysterectomy by the defendant Dr. David J. Schleicher. During this surgical procedure, Dr. Schleicher perforated Swift’s small bowel with three through-and-through holes. The doctor chose not to diagnose the perforations until four days after the surgery. Swift developed sepsis, needed a bowel resection surgery and then suffered additional complications that required hospitalization and home health care.

In addition to Dr. Schleicher, Swedish American Health System Corp. and its related companies were also made defendants. These defendants admitted that they caused the injury but argued that the injuries were not the result of negligence. At the end of the jury trial, the jury agreed with defendants and found in favor of them and against Swift.

The plaintiff Swift filed a motion for a new trial, which was denied by the trial court. As a result, Swift took an appeal arguing that the trial judge committed reversible error by (1) allowing evidence that plaintiff’s expert, Dr. Robert Dein, caused a bowel injury in 1989; (2) allowed cumulative defense testimony; and (3) declined to find the verdict against the manifest weight of the evidence.
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In October 2016, we reported about this important case on the Illinois law on relation-back and how it applies in a medical malpractice lawsuit. In the underlying case of Sheri Lawler, as administrator who sued on behalf of Jill Prusak, the University of Chicago Medical Center and Advocate Christ Hospital and some doctors for medical malpractice in 2011, it was claimed that the doctors and the hospitals misdiagnosed Prusak’s central nervous system lymphoma. She unfortunately died in November 2013 while the case was still pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill.

The ultimate question in this Supreme Court case was whether an amended complaint was time-barred under the four-year statute of repose; 735 ILCS 5/13-212. While the case was pending, Lawler’s daughter, Jill Prusak, brought the case on behalf of her mother’s estate and asked the court to add a wrongful-death claim to the lawsuit. The Circuit Court judge rejected the motion and denied the Lawler family to amend the complaint saying it was time-barred under the four-year statute of repose.

However, the Illinois Appellate Court for the 1st District reversed that decision under the premise of the “amendments” or relation-back statute; 735 ILCS 5/2-616. The defendants appealed that decision to the Illinois Supreme Court.
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Galina Volodina, a 42-year-old breast cancer survivor, complained of gastrointestinal pain. She underwent a stomach biopsy, which pathologist Dr. Kanta Davessar reported as being benign.

About 14 months later, she developed a lesion in her uterus and was then diagnosed as having malignant signet ring cell carcinoma thought to have originated from her stomach. Despite chemotherapy, she died less than a year later. She had been an office worker making between $40,000 and $50,000 per year. She is survived by her husband and two minor children.

Volodina’s family sued Dr. Davessar and her practice alleging that she chose not to timely diagnose a malignant stomach lesion at the time of the first biopsy. It was argued that had the defendants interpreted the biopsy correctly, she would have been diagnosed at Stage I or early Stage II, giving her an 80% chance of survival.
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In a medical malpractice case brought against an expert witness who was alleged to have misdiagnosed the plaintiff in a prior malpractice case, Philip W. Sandler sued Jerry J. Sweet, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist who was retained as a defense expert when Sandler sued Downers Grove-based Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital.

Sandler asserted that Dr. Sweet chose not to correctly diagnose the extent of the brain injury he allegedly suffered because of Advocate’s negligence.

The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the judgment that dismissed the complaint against Dr. Sweet and explained, “Because physicians conducting medical examinations at the request of third parties assume a fundamentally different role from treating physicians, no physician-patient relationship exists between Dr. Sweet and the plaintiff and, therefore, Dr. Sweet owed no duty of care to the plaintiff.”
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Philip Madden suffered from numerous medical conditions including obesity, respiratory acidosis, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, obstructive sleep apnea, obesity hyperventilation syndrome and hyperlipidemia. He was admitted to the Jesse Brown V.A. Medical Hospital in Chicago several times leading up to his last admission in December 2007.

When he returned for an outpatient appointment, it was found that his labs were abnormal. He was admitted to the hospital. At the time of his admission, the pulmonary consulting services described him as suffering from a wide range of medical issues.

Madden was placed in respiratory isolation. A week after being admitted, he suffered a cardiopulmonary arrest. Madden was intubated and resuscitated, but he never regained consciousness and died later at a long-term care facility.
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Robert Dardenne experienced chest pain. With that symptom he went to a nearby hospital emergency department where the cardiologist on his case, Dr. Vibhuti Singh, ordered testing and observation at the hospital. After two days, Dr. Singh discharged Dardenne, telling him that his symptoms were not cardiac in nature.

Several months later, Dardenne, then 66 years old, suffered a fatal myocardial infarction. He was survived by his wife and one adult child.

His family and estate sued the hospital, claiming that Dr. Singh was negligent in choosing not to provide the appropriate follow-up medical care. The lawsuit also claimed that the testing was ambiguous and thus Dr. Singh should have performed a cardiac catheterization to determine whether Dardenne had a blockage in his arteries.
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According to a report in Modern Healthcare, the University of Colorado Health and its flagship hospital, University of Colorado Hospital, reduced the sepsis mortality rate by 15% in less than one year. In 2016, about 10% of patients with sepsis died from it. At the University of Colorado Hospital, officials conducted an internal study and found that some septic patients did not receive the needed antibiotics quickly enough. According to CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), antibiotics should be given to patients with sepsis within three hours. The University of Colorado Health has found that patients regularly waited three hours or longer to get the needed antibiotic after sepsis was diagnosed.

At the University of Colorado Health, it was proven convincingly that if the patient receives antibiotics within an hour of the sepsis diagnosis, the sepsis death rate dropped by 50%. At the University of Colorado Hospital to reduce this response time, its officials developed a multi-step process that uses patients’ electronic medical records to identify patients who are at risk of sepsis. The electronic health records (EHR) monitors patients’ vital signs and alert a nurse of any abnormalities. The nurse then will check for other signs of sepsis and enter those symptoms into the EHR, which determines whether the patient has a low, medium or high probability of sepsis.

When patients are determined to have a medium or high probability of contracting sepsis, the hospital’s sepsis team, a group of caregivers made up of a nurse, pharmacist and a physician or advanced practitioner, who are dedicated to making quick sepsis diagnoses, are put into place. If the team determines that the patient is septic, antibiotics are immediately ordered and given. The prescription is marked as urgent to make sure that the pharmacist fills the order within the hour.
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During the discovery process in the case of Toni M. Morrison’s personal-injury lawsuit against Walmart, the company argued that she had to provide a written report from her treating physician, Dr. Daniel Mulconrey, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2)(B). The court stated that the report was required because Morrison intended to ask the doctor for expert testimony about three operations performed by other doctors, in addition to testifying about the medical treatment that he did provide.

Walmart’s motion to compel relied on the case of Meyers v. National Railroad Passenger Corp., 619 F.3d 729 (7th Cir. 2010), which held that “a treating physician who has offered to provide expert testimony as to the cause of the plaintiff’s injury, but who did not make that determination in the course of providing treatment, should be deemed to be one ‘retained or especially employed to provide expert testimony in the case,’ and thus is required to submit an expert report in accordance with Rule 26(a)(2).”

The magistrate judge in the federal court in the Central District of Illinois, Magistrate Judge Jonathan E. Hawley, explained that under “the plain language” of Rule 26(a)(2) – as amended a few months after the 7th Circuit decided Meyers – “Dr. Mulconrey is not a retained expert and does not have to comply with the reporting requirements of [S]ubsection (a)(2)(B).”
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The U.S. Supreme Court has prevented 592 nonresidents from joining 86 California residents in suing Bristol-Myers Squibb in California state court for personal injury allegedly caused by Plavix, a blood thinner. At the state level, the California Supreme Court concluded that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment did not bar the out-of-state residents from suing the corporation, BMS, in state court.

In the vigorous dissent written by Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s majority opinion explained, “The nonresidents were not prescribed Plavix in California, did not purchase Plavix in California, did not ingest Plavix in California and were not injured by Plavix in California.

The mere fact that other plaintiffs were prescribed, obtained and ingested Plavix in California – and allegedly sustained the same injuries as did the nonresidents – does not allow the state to assert specific jurisdiction over the nonresidents’ claims.”
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Rebecca Gaither was transported by ambulance to West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park, Ill., on Nov. 27, 2012 with complaints of rear lower head pain and vision loss in her right eye. At the emergency room, she complained of a sudden onset of neck pain with an immediate episode of seeing stars in her right eye.

The triage nurse assessed her blood pressure as elevated and assigned her to the next available treatment bed. During examination by an emergency department doctor, Gaither, who was just 47 years old at the time, reported a sudden onset of lost bilateral vision and sharp neck pain while she was reaching for a phone. Following a normal neurological exam, the ER doctor ordered CT scans of the head and neck with and without contrast, for a suspected dissection of the left vertebral artery.

However, Gaither collapsed and became unresponsive before the scans were done. She was immediately transferred from West Suburban Medical to Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., where a CT angiogram showed a ruptured 1.6-centimeter aneurysm in the right ophthalmic artery, left vertebral artery dissection with arteriovenous fistula and extensive severe fibromuscular dysplasia.
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