$3.5 Million Jury Verdict in Failure to Diagnose and Treat Ischemic Stroke

Melanie Smith, 40, was taken to a hospital suffering from a severe headache, slurred speech, dizziness, right-sided weakness, and vomiting. These were all apparent signs of a stroke.

Two hours after she arrived at the hospital, an emergency physician, Dr. Antonio Baca, examined her, prescribed migraine medication and ordered a CT scan. The scan was negative for hemorrhagic stroke.

However, Smith’s symptoms continued over the next few hours. Dr. Baca ordered an MRI and consulted with a neurologist. The MRI showed that Smith had suffered an ischemic stroke. She was then transferred to another hospital where she underwent a craniotomy. A craniotomy is the serious surgical procedure in which the skull is perforated. A bone flap is temporarily removed from the skull to allow access to the brain by the neurosurgeons. A craniotomy is usually completed so that neurosurgeons can remove a brain tumor or an abnormal brain tissue.

Despite the craniotomy treatment, Smith died. She was survived by her husband and two minor children. She had been a bank teller earning approximately $28,000 per year.

Smith’s husband, on behalf of her estate, sued Dr. Baca and his medical group, alleging medical negligence in choosing not to timely diagnose and treat his wife’s ischemic stroke. The Smith family claimed that Dr. Baca had performed an inadequate workup and should have timely consulted with a neurologist and ordered an MRI and tPA in light of Smith’s worsening symptoms. They also pointed out that Smith’s mother had questioned physicians about the possibility of a stroke.

The term tPA refers to tissue plasminogen activator. It is an enzyme that is often given to patients within three hours of a stroke to dissolve blood clots in the brain.

The timing of the use of tPA is controversial. Some physicians believe that the time to give tPA to a patient with signs and symptoms of an ischemic stroke is shorter than the three-hour time limit suggested by many medical experts and neurosurgeons. tPA is made by the cells lining blood vessels and has also been made in the laboratory. It can be used for both stroke and heart attack patients.

In this case, the jury signed a verdict for $3.5 million for the wrongful death of Smith.

The attorneys successfully handling this tragic case were Charles F. Hilton, Humes J. Franklin III and Alexandra Humphreys.

At trial, the Smith family attorneys presented experts in emergency medicine, economics and neurology.

The defendants presented experts in emergency medicine and neurology.

Smith v. Baca, No. CL17-894 (Va. Cir. Ct. Augusta County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling failure to timely treat stroke, physician negligence lawsuits, emergency medicine negligence lawsuits, failure to diagnose and treat, wrongful death cases and traumatic brain injury lawsuits for individuals, families and loved ones who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Schaumburg, Aurora, Naperville, Joliet, Elgin, Wheaton, St. Charles, Woodstock, Bolingbrook, Waukegan, Des Plaines, Oak Lawn, Orland Park, Tinley Park, Mount Prospect, Chicago (Humboldt Park, Lakeview, North Center, East Garfield Park, Little Village, Bridgeport, Wentworth Gardens, Fuller Park, Westlawn, Midway Airport, Chrysler Village, Wrightwood, West Pullman, Altgeld Gardens, South Deering, Marquette Park, Grand Crossing, Park Manor, Lithuanian Plaza, Gage Park, Cottage Grove Heights, Douglas, Near South Side, Dunning, Chinatown, Lower West Side, East Pilsen, Clarendon Park, Central Station, Budlong Woods, Boys Town, Archer Heights, Auburn, Gresham, Kosciusz Park, Kenwood, South Lawndale, Marshall Square), Hillside, Hinsdale, Franklin Park, Melrose Park and Woodridge, Ill.

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