Any time a patient undergoes a surgical procedure, doctors warn us of the various risks and complications that could result from the surgery. Yet what duty do physicians have to be prepared to handle the potential complications of a surgical procedure? Are they excused from medical negligence if a patient dies as a result of a known complication of surgery? Or do they have a duty to do everything in their power to try and beat the odds and save the patient?
Take for instance the facts surrounding the Illinois wrongful death lawsuit of Estate of Abraham Pinarkyil v. Resurrection Medical Center, et al., No. 07010009. The case involves the death of a 45 year-old man who died after undergoing surgery to remove a benign tumor in his heart. Even though the man’s tumor was benign, the surgery was necessary because even benign tumors can be life threatening by impairing heart function and blood flow.
The heart tumor was removed at Resurrection Medical Center and immediately following the surgery there were signs of problems. Instead of having improved cardiac function following the removal of his benign tumor, Mr. Pinarkyil began to experience cardiac abnormalities. These abnormal heart symptoms should have alerted the medical staff that he was possibly going into shock.
And in fact, the team at Resurrection Medical Center was aware that Mr. Pinarkyil’s vital signs were abnormal and responded by giving him fluids and medications to treat his shock. However, the plaintiff’s criticism was not that the doctors did not respond at all, but that their response was not appropriate. Specifically, the plaintiff’s attorney contended that the physicians should have recognized that Mr. Pinarkyil’s shock was the result of cardiac complications following his heart surgery.
In addition, the estate alleged that had the doctors appropriately identified the cause of Mr. Pinarkyil’s shock that they would have intervened with more drastic measures, such as placing an intra-aortic balloon pump. This device would have assisted in pumping blood through the heart, thus easing the strain on Mr. Pinarkyil’s weakened heart.
Instead, the fluids and medications the Resurrection doctors administered to treat Mr. Pinarkyil’s shock did nothing to improve his symptoms. Instead, his condition continued to worsen, eventually resulting in cardiopulmonary arrest. The estate argued that had the medical staff taken more drastic measures, such as placing an intra-aortic balloon pump, that it would have prevented the cardiopulmonary arrest that led to Mr. Pinarkyil’s death.
The hospital’s attorneys defended their doctors’ actions, stating that the treatment of fluid and medication was appropriate given Mr. Pinarkyil’s signs and symptoms and that his death was the unavoidable result of his surgery. The defense further contended that his shock and poor cardiac function was irreversible and that there was nothing its doctors could have done to save Mr. Pinarkyil’s life.
However, the defense settled the Illinois wrongful death lawsuit before trial, so did not have a chance to see whether its arguments would convince a jury. The $3.8 million settlement will go to Mr. Pinarkyil’s surviving wife, his two daughters, and newborn son.
Chicago’s Kreisman Law Offices has been handing Illinois wrongful death cases and other personal injury matters for individuals and families for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and surrounding areas, including Summit, Bridgeview, Clarendon Hills, Alsip and Chicago’s Beverly.
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