When analyzing cases for possible Illinois medical malpractice, sometimes the resulting injury is a reasonable outcome of the procedure and as such does not quality as medical malpractice. However, sometimes you encounter a medical malpractice lawsuit where not only was the resulting injury not a foreseeable outcome, but it could have easily been avoided.
Lauro Ortiz’s medical malpractice lawsuit is such a case where the resulting injury would not have occurred if not for medical negligence. The kidney transplant malpractice lawsuit resulted in a $6 million settlement from Rush University Medical Center.
Ortiz presented for a kidney transplant at Rush University Medical Center. The 39 year-old had been born with only one kidney and also suffered from diabetes. At the time Ortiz was on dialysis and was hoping that the kidney transplant would free him from the regular dialysis treatments and allow him to live a more normal life.
While the kidney transplant itself went smoothly and did not result in any surgical malpractice, the complications arose more from a communication error than any other type of negligence. Ortiz’s kidney had been donated through Gift of Hope, which realized that the replacement kidney carried a fungal infection almost two weeks after the transplant occurred. The organization immediately contacted the Chicago hospital to inform them of the error.
Around the same time lab results from Rush University Medical Center confirmed the fungal infection in the kidney, so that on two separate occasions the infection was documented. However, Ortiz was not informed of the infection and nothing was done to prevent it from spreading to other areas of his body.
Several weeks later Ortiz presented to the emergency room complaining of dizziness. At that time the Chicago hospital’s staff finally addressed the infection. However, by that point it had already spread to his brain, leaving Ortiz with permanent cognitive deficits, including memory loss.
Ortiz’s attorneys alleged that the cognitive deficits could have been avoided if the hospital had recognized the importance of the lab work confirming the fungal infection and had begun treating it. The assumption is that if this had been done then the infection would not have spread to Ortiz’s brain.
Again, while some side effects are expected for any medical procedure, in this case the medical outcome could and should have been avoided. Receiving a diseased kidney that resulted in brain damage was a clear sign of medical negligence on behalf of the hospital, whereas if the kidney had simply been rejected by Ortiz’s body it would not have been medical malpractice because that is a foreseeable outcome of any transplant surgery.
Mitch Dudek. “Infected kidney led to man’s brain damage.” Chicago Sun Times. September 8, 2010.
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