$75 Million Jury Verdict in Failure to Timely Diagnose Stroke

Jonathan Buckelew, 32, experienced neck pain and a headache for four days. In addition, he suffered bouts of blurred vision and ringing in his ears. He went to a chiropractor — Dr. Michael Axt — who completed a neck adjustment.

When Buckelew sat up after the adjustment, he reported dizziness; he appeared disoriented. Dr. Axt called 911, and Buckelew, who became unresponsive, was taken to North Fulton Hospital.

By the time he arrived at the hospital, he was able to move only his right hand. An emergency physician, Dr. Matthew Womack, allegedly diagnosed a possible dissection and ordered a CT of the brain and a computed tomography angiography (CTA) of the neck. A radiologist, Dr. James Waldschmidt, interpreted the CTA showing a potential vertebral artery dissection.

After Dr. Womack read the radiology report, he consulted the on-call neurologist, who recommended a lumbar puncture. Before the test came back, however, Buckelew suffered a seizure and was intubated. The lumbar puncture report was subsequently deformed and reported as normal.

Buckelew was diagnosed as having encephalitis and altered mental status and then transferred to an ICU. The following day, another doctor saw him and ordered an MRI of the brain as well as a magnetic resonance angiogram, which showed that he had suffered a massive non-hemorrhagic stroke resulting in permanent brain damage. He is unable to move any part of his body other than his eyes but is cognitively intact.

Buckelew and his wife filed suit against Dr. Womack, alleging that he chose not to timely diagnose the stroke and communicate the correct information to the neurologist, including Buckelow’s symptoms and history of chiropractic adjustment. The Buckelew family also alleged that Dr. Waldschmidt had failed to diagnose arterial thrombosis evident on the CTA.

The lawsuit did not claim lost income.

The jury signed a verdict for $75 million.

The attorneys handling this tragic case for the Buckelew family were Laura M. Schamp and Lloyd Bell.

Buckelew v. Axt, No. 17EV004146 (Ga. St. Ct. Fulton County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical malpractice lawsuits, misdiagnosis of stroke lawsuits, brain injury lawsuits, radiology error cases, and wrongful death cases 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 45 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Bartlett, Bloomingdale, Arlington Heights, Wheeling, Libertyville, Evanston, Maywood, Oak Park, Cicero, Oak Lawn, Crestwood, Orland Park, Tinley Park, Naperville, Bolingbrook, Warrenville, Aurora, Geneva, Chicago (Little Village, Greek Town, Hyde Part, Washington Heights, Calumet Heights, Kenwood, Fuller Park, Douglas, Lower West Side, South Loop, Wicker Park, Humboldt Park, West Loop, Lincoln Park, Edison Park), Park Ridge, Rosemont and Northlake, Ill.

Robert D. Kreisman has been an active member of the Illinois and Missouri bars since 1976.

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