Articles Posted in Brain Injury

Rebecca Gaither was transported by ambulance to West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park, Ill., on Nov. 27, 2012 with complaints of rear lower head pain and vision loss in her right eye. At the emergency room, she complained of a sudden onset of neck pain with an immediate episode of seeing stars in her right eye.

The triage nurse assessed her blood pressure as elevated and assigned her to the next available treatment bed. During examination by an emergency department doctor, Gaither, who was just 47 years old at the time, reported a sudden onset of lost bilateral vision and sharp neck pain while she was reaching for a phone. Following a normal neurological exam, the ER doctor ordered CT scans of the head and neck with and without contrast, for a suspected dissection of the left vertebral artery.

However, Gaither collapsed and became unresponsive before the scans were done. She was immediately transferred from West Suburban Medical to Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., where a CT angiogram showed a ruptured 1.6-centimeter aneurysm in the right ophthalmic artery, left vertebral artery dissection with arteriovenous fistula and extensive severe fibromuscular dysplasia.
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Emilee Williams, a 21-year-old student, consulted an internist at Mercy Clinic Springfield Communities when she experienced tremors, balance and concentration problems, insomnia and panic attacks. She was diagnosed as having fatigue and depression and was prescribed medication.

Almost five months later, she returned to the clinic in a deteriorated condition and was re-diagnosed with simple anxiety.
The next month, when her symptoms worsened, Williams underwent an MRI that showed severe brain damage resulting from Wilson’s disease, a rare genetic inherited disorder in which excessive amounts of copper accumulate in the body, particularly in the liver, brain and eyes. Despite treatment, she still suffers from the effects of her brain injury, which affects her speaking and ability to walk among other deficits.

Williams sued Mercy Clinic Springfield alleging vicarious liability for the physician’s choosing not to timely diagnose Wilson’s disease and including her neurological condition on her differential diagnosis.
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Dr. Terry Polt was 61 years old when she underwent an embolization procedure to treat her chronic nosebleeds.

An embolization procedure involves the selected occlusion of blood vessels by purposely introducing clots to a blood vessel. Embolization is generally used to treat a wide variety of conditions affecting different organs of the human body. In this case, the attempt was to cure chronic nosebleeds.

After the embolization procedure, Dr. Polt, a family practice physician, suffered an embolic stroke resulting in difficulties with executive function and attention. Dr. Polt was earning $150,000 annually and is now unable to work.
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A neuropathologist, Dr. Meena Gujrati, and her employer, Central Illinois Pathology, were named as defendants in a medical-malpractice lawsuit brought by Rebecca Gapinski who alleged that this doctor misdiagnosed Daniel Gapinski’s brain tumor as being benign.

Right before the start of the jury trial, Dr. Gujrati requested permission to proceed with a substitution of counsel. The attorneys for the Gapinski family objected, arguing that the motion was tardy because the case had been pending for three years. However, the Gapinski family accepted a compromise, and the trial judge ruled that the defendants could have separate counsel, separate pleadings and separate experts if they were otherwise barred from double-teaming at trial.

The verdict for Gapinski was $1,727,409. On appeal, Dr. Gujrati and Central Illinois Pathology argued, among other things, that the judge erred in barring “dual representation.”
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Annually in the U.S., at least 3.5 million people are treated for traumatic brain injuries (TBI). A recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s neurology section reports that the development of therapies for TBI has been limited by the absence of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers. The microtubule-associated protein Tau is an axonal phosphoprotein. Up to now, the presence of the protein in plasma from patients with acute TBI and chronic TBI has not been investigated.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is considered an event and/or a disease. Traumatic brain injuries may lead to chronic functional, neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric deficits. The three classifications of a TBI are measured by severity, which can be mild, moderate or severe.

There were more than 3.5 million emergency department visits for TBI and more than 280,000 patients are hospitalized annually with TBI; most of these are classified as mild TBI. It is presumed that there are many more individuals who have mild TBI, but do not seek medical attention. Between 2000 and 2014, more than 300,000 members of the military sustained TBI during combat and training. Approximately half of the patients with TBI in the U.S. have at least some short-term disability related to that injury or illness. TBI is associated with an increased risk of neurodegenerative disorder such as Alzheimer’s disease, which can occur in individuals years after the injury.
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Mark Brown was a 39-year-old high school wrestling coach who began experiencing dizziness, neck pain, blurred vision and nausea while at a wrestling practice. He went to a local hospital, and paramedics transferred him to Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center where he was given a CT scan without contrast as part of a stroke workup.

The next day, Brown was discharged with a diagnosis of benign positional vertigo.

On the way home from the hospital, he suffered a massive stroke that caused severe brain damage. As a result, he lost vision and experienced difficulties with walking and speaking, among other problems. Brown now requires 24-hour-a-day care.
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Jenny Copsey, on behalf of her late husband, Lance Copsey, filed a lawsuit against a radiologist, Dr. John Park, claiming that he chose not to properly analyze radiological images, which purportedly contributed to the her late husband’s fatal stroke.

The state’s court of appeals said that the evidence of negligence by Copsey’s other physicians who previously settled out of the case was properly admitted by the trial court because it was essential to provide Dr. Park with a fair trial.

The decision stated: “Evidence of nonparty negligence was relevant and necessary in providing Dr. Park a fair trial as it tended to show he was not negligence; thus, the alleged prejudice did not outweigh its probative value.”
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Gretchen Altemus, 68, struck her head in a fall. She went to the Indiana Regional Center emergency room where she underwent a CT scan. The radiologist working for Aris Teleradiology interpreted the test as being normal.

She was admitted to the hospital. Just three hours later, she became non-responsive. A second CT scan was done showing intracranial bleeding. Although she was transferred to another hospital, she died the next day of brain damage resulting from the intracranial bleeding. She is survived by her two adult children.

Altemus’s daughter, on behalf of her family and estate, sued Aris Teleradiology and the hospital claiming that they chose not to timely diagnose and treat the intracranial bleeding. Had the radiologist identified the small area of bleeding in the brain, the family alleged that she could have received lifesaving treatment and survived.
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This appeal is from the district court’s dismissal, on statute of limitations grounds, of a medical malpractice lawsuit. The plaintiff, Johnnie Watkins, filed the action on behalf of her adult daughter, Johnnice Ford, who is a disabled person. The lawsuit alleged that Ford sought treatment at the emergency room of Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Chicago where she was treated by a doctor who was an employee of Family Christian Health Center. This facility was operated pursuant to grant money from the Public Health Services, an agency of the U.S. government. The lawsuit was brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), and the United States is the defendant.

In the lawsuit, it was asserted that the treating physician chose not to correctly diagnose and treat Ford who was eventually correctly diagnosed with Wernicke’s encephalopathy and who sustained neurological injuries, including permanent disability. Encephalopathy is a general term that describes a disease that damages the brain. Wernicke’s encephalopathy is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a severe vitamin B1 deficiency. Parts of the brain may be damaged as a result of this deficiency causing increased difficulty with memory, movement, vision and coordination.

The federal district court judge dismissed the lawsuit that was filed beyond the relevant statute of limitations. Watkins appealed that dismissal order to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
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It is no secret that thousands of American patients die or are permanently and seriously injured by medical providers. More than 250,000 Americans die in hospitals every year due to medical errors. That staggering number makes deaths in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and long-term care centers the third most common cause of death in the United States. The number of Americans who die because of the negligent errors made by medical providers is higher than those who die because of respiratory disease, accidents, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the causes of the deaths are not isolated to one common medical practice area.

The Johns Hopkins research involves a comprehensive analysis of four large studies. According to a report a year ago by the Washington Post, the Johns Hopkins report took into account studies from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s Office of the Inspector General and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality between 2000 to 2008. The calculation of 251,000 deaths in a year amounts to nearly 700 deaths a day — about 9.5 percent of all deaths annually in the United States.
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