$4.75 Million Settlement Reached for Brain Injured Baby When Hospital Failed to Staff Physician to Handle Chest Tube Placement

On Oct. 30, 2009, J.S. (DOB: 5/7/09) suffered a bilateral tension pneumothorax at the defendant hospital, which resulted in a cardiopulmonary arrest for 23 minutes. A bilateral tension pneumothorax is a medical emergency, and it requires immediate treatment. This 6-month-old child was a post-cardiac surgical patient who suffered from chronic lung disease and was ventilator dependent. He was at an elevated risk of suffering from pneumothoraxes.

He also was born prematurely and was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. It was anticipated before this event that J.S. would have been discharged the next day.

By 9:30 p.m. that night, J.S.’s treating physicians should have entertained a differential diagnosis that included pneumothorax (collapsed lung) based upon J.S.’s clinical presentation (ashen colored, diminished and labored breathing), as well as pH of 7.15. The standard of care was a stat chest x-ray at bedside.

The stat portable chest x-ray was not ordered until 9:40 p.m. by a cardiology fellow and was completed at 9:59 p.m. At the deposition of the cardiology fellow, she testified that she knew that chest tubes needed to be placed immediately. In other physician deposition testimony, it was admitted that in this scenario, immediate chest tube placement can be completed within moments of diagnosis. The surgeon who eventually came to the hospital to place the chest tubes stated that it was done within 2 to 3 minutes.

In the lawsuit filed in Cook County, Ill., it was alleged that the standard of care for a hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit was that it must provide treatment to a post-surgical patient like this child requiring a physician qualified to diagnose and treat pneumothorax be present in the hospital for such an emergency. In addition, the standard of care requires that the doctor must be present and available within the unit at all times to respond to an emergency pneumothorax promptly and appropriately by way of a chest tube placement immediately upon diagnosis.

The stat portable chest x-ray was first ordered approximately 54 minutes before the cardiac arrest, but was not completed until 19 minutes after it was ordered. The ordering physician was aware that the child was suffering from bilateral pneumothoraxes. Because no physicians other than the treating cardiothoracic surgeons were available to place the chest tubes on a post-surgical patient like this child, the chest tubes were not promptly inserted and the child suffered cardiopulmonary arrest, which resulted in profound brain damage.

J.S., by his family v. Undisclosed Hospital; 2012 L XXXX (Cook County, Ill.)

The confidential settlement of $4,750,000 was paid by an undisclosed defendant hospital. The attorneys who handled this case representing the family and the child were Robert D. Kreisman of Kreisman Law Offices and Thomas A. Nathan of Munday & Nathan. With this settlement, this loving family will be able to supply the much-needed medical, nursing and material care that J.S. requires.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling hospital negligence cases, brain injury cases, birth trauma injury lawsuits and medical negligence lawsuits for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or killed as the result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding communities including Morton Grove, River Grove, Naperville, Aurora, Joliet, St. Charles, Hinsdale, Orland Park, Highwood, Highland Park, Chicago (Logan Square, Chinatown, West Town, South Shore, East Side, Loyola Park, Jackson Park, Wrigleyville, Bridgeport), Des Plaines and Wilmette, Ill.

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