$306,000 Illinois Jury Verdict for Patient Injured by Doctor in Gallbladder Surgery

In November 2008, 26-year-old Heather Hinshaw underwent gallbladder surgery at Trinity Medical Center in Rock Island, Ill.  The general surgeon who did the surgery thought he saw a stone in the common bile duct during an intraoperative cholangiogram, which is a procedure using a catheter to inject dye into the gallbladder to better visualize the blockage using X-ray.  He referred the patient to a gastroenterologist, the defendant Ahmad Cheema, M.D. 

A few hours after the gallbladder surgery, Dr. Cheema decided to perform an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), but he did not look at the cholangiogram results or discuss the case with the referring general surgeon.

Hinshaw did not have jaundice, yellowing of the skin, or any other symptoms of a stone in the common bile duct at the time. During the ERCP procedure, Dr. Cheema introduced a guidewire into the pancreatic duct and the wire curved back on itself puncturing the patient’s pancreatic duct.

The puncture led to severe pancreatitis, which extended Hinshaw’s  hospitalization; she was later transferred to a tertiary care facility.  It was there that drains were placed in the gallbladder fossa, a depression in the gallbladder, and around the transverse colon in an attempt to drain the abscesses.  She was briefly discharged from the tertiary care facility, but then was readmitted due to weakness and pain. 

A CT scan revealed that Hinshaw’s colon was enlarged due to a blockage.  As a result, she required exploratory surgery and a colostomy. She eventually recovered with little residual damage although her medical bills totaled $235,301.  She also lost three months of work as a teacher.

Hinshaw’s lawsuit against Dr. Cheema also named the general surgeon and radiology group as defendants.  No one knew the name of the radiologist who actually looked at the cholangiogram intraoperatively, and summary judgment was entered in favor of the radiology group. 

Hinshaw voluntarily dismissed the general surgeon as a defendant and the case went to trial as against Dr. Cheema only. At the jury trial, the defendant’s counsel argued that Dr. Cheema should be entitled to a sole proximate cause instruction, which the trial judge denied. Post-trial motions were also denied. 

The jury’s verdict of $306,400 was made up of the following damages:

  • $50,000 for pain and suffering
  • $15,000 for loss of normal life;
  • $235,000 for medical expenses; and
  • $6,400 for lost income.

The attorney for Heather Hinshaw was Michael J. Warner.  There was no indication that there was a demand to settle the case before trial or an offer to settle the case in advance of trial made by Dr.  Cheema.

Heather Hinshaw v. Dr. Ahmad Cheema, No. 10 L 29 (Rock Island County, Ill.).

Kreisman Law Offices has been successfully handling hospital negligence cases, medical malpractice matters and nursing home abuse cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Alsip, Midlothian, Palos Heights, Countryside, Hickory Hills, Chicago (Beverly, Washington Heights, Lake Calumet, Riverdale, Canaryville, Bridgeport), Cicero, Joliet, Waukegan, Des Plaines and Schiller Park, Ill. 

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