$383,000 Cook County Jury Verdict in Medical Malpractice Injuries After Hysterectomy

Sandra Hernandez, 46, underwent a laparoscopic hysterectomy performed by the defendant obstetrician/gynecologist, Dr. Joseph Thomas. The surgery was done at Trinity Hospital in Chicago on March 31, 2010.

During the surgery, Dr. Thomas’s placement of a laparoscopic trocar resulted in lacerations to the iliac artery, iliac vein and small bowel. The iliac arteries are three arteries located in the region of the ilium in the pelvis. The three arteries are the common iliac artery, the external iliac artery and the internal iliac artery. These vessels are located in the pelvic area of the body.

After the lacerations, Hernandez suffered severe abdominal bleeding with massive blood loss leading to cardiac arrest and a call for a code blue resuscitation. Extensive amounts of blood products were administered after which surgery was completed to repair the small bowel and blood vessels.

One day after Hernandez was discharged from Trinity Hospital, she was re-hospitalized at Christ Hospital for blood clots related to the incident, and she was placed on blood thinner medications for one year.

In 2011, Hernandez was informed that one of the donors of the blood products she received at Trinity Hospital was HIV positive. She underwent HIV testing, which came back negative.

Hernandez and her husband Rafael filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Thomas maintaining that he deviated from the standard of care by performing a blind or closed primary access to the peritoneal cavity while the patient (Hernandez) was in the Trendelenburg position. The standard of care is to insert the closed primary access or “blind trocar” while a patient is in the supine position (After the entry trocar blade is removed, the patient can be moved into the Trendelenburg position.). The Trendelenburg position is contraindicated in using the blind or closed technique, and the defendant’s improper technique caused the major vessel to become more vulnerable to injury.

The defense for Dr. Thomas was denial of negligence and contended that Dr. Thomas fully complied with the standard of care.
Before trial, a demand to settle the case was made at $150,000. There was no offer made on behalf of Dr. Thomas. In closing argument, counsel for the Hernandez family, Christopher Patrick Ford, asked the jury to return a verdict between $800,000 and $900,000.

The jury’s verdict of $383,000 was made up of the following damages:

$378,000 to Sandra Hernandez:
• $200,000 for past and future pain and suffering;
• $5,000 for future loss of normal life;
• $5,000 for disfigurement;
• $168,000 for past and future medical expenses.

For Rafael Hernandez:
• $5,000 for past and future loss of consortium.

At trial, counsel for the Hernandez family presented experts in obstetrics and neuropsychology. Dr. Thomas’s counsel presented experts in obstetrics and psychiatry.

Hernandez v. Dr. Joseph Thomas, 12 L 210 (Cook County, Illinois).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical malpractice cases, hospital negligence cases, surgical negligence cases, birth trauma injury cases and nursing home negligence cases for individuals and families who have been injured or killed by the negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and surrounding areas, including Flossmoor, Harvey, Calumet City, Blue Island, Crestwood, Chicago Heights, Justice, Countryside, Burr Ridge, Chicago (Albany Park, Andersonville, Diversey Harbor, DePaul University Area, Chinatown, Little Italy, Lincoln Square, South Shore, Jefferson Park, Garfield Ridge, Gold Coast, Rogers Park, Roscoe Village, Greek Town, Horner Park, Humboldt Park), Bridgeview, Burbank, Calumet Park, Lansing, Hoffman Estates and Hazel Crest, Ill.

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