Articles Posted in Cardiovascular Surgery Errors

Dawn Arrigoni, 35, went to the emergency room at Woodwinds Hospital complaining of vomiting, fever and abdominal pain. The nurses there attempted to place a peripheral IV but had trouble placing it.

A nurse practitioner then placed an intraosseous (IO) line. An intraosseous infusion line is used in the process of injecting directly into the marrow of the bone to provide a non-collapsible entry point into the systemic venous system of a patient. This method is often used to provide fluids and medication when an IV is not practicable as in this case. The IO line is considered an efficient method to provide intravenous fluids or medication.

Shortly after the IO line was put in place, Arrigoni complained of significant pain for which she was given the pain reliever Dilaudid. Over an hour and a half later, a nurse noted swelling in her lower left leg, which appeared to be pale in color. She continued to complain to the hospital staff of leg pain.
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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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In a split decision, the Kentucky Supreme Court has allowed a medical malpractice lawsuit to proceed against the defendant, a surgeon, who was alleged to have chosen not to inform a patient, the plaintiff, of a risk associated with a device implantation procedure. The trial judge dismissed the case for lack of a medical expert to support the plaintiff’s case.

In a 4-3 decision, the Kentucky Supreme Court agreed with the intermediate appellate court that overturned the trial court’s directed verdict. The claim brought by Jacqulyn G. Harrington had been dismissed. In her suit, Harrington had alleged that Dr. Alex Argotte chose not to warn her that the device, called an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter, which was designed to prevent blood clots, could break apart and become lodged in her lungs.

The trial judge threw out the case shortly after Harrington’s lawyer made an opening statement at trial saying that they were not going to call an expert witness because only “common sense” was required to determine whether Harrington had been properly informed of the risks of the procedure.
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Virginia Schneider, 18, went to Griffin Hospital to be treated for a severe asthma attack. In the process of evaluating her condition, emergency physicians Dr. Gregory Boris and Dr. Alyssa French learned of her left leg pain and numbness. The doctors ordered an ultrasound to rule out a blood clot. When the ultrasound revealed an abnormality in the popliteal artery, the doctors consulted the on-call vascular surgeon, Dr. Marsel Huribal.

Dr. Huribal instructed the emergency room physicians to order a CT scan, which was read offsite by a radiologist, Dr. Jennifer Bryant. Although the full text of Dr. Bryant’s report was never transmitted to the hospital, Dr. French learned and later informed Dr. Huribal that there was a portion of the artery in Schneider’s leg that appeared to be blocked. Nevertheless, Dr. Huribal concluded that she did not have a blood clot.

The next day, radiologist Dr. Gregory Bell reviewed the CT scan and contacted Dr. Huribal who reiterated that he did not believe that Schneider had a blood clot. Over the following weekend, her condition deteriorated rapidly. At an appointment several days later, her foot was found to lack pulses, and she was rushed to the hospital. Despite multiple procedures to restore circulation in the leg, it was concluded that her leg had to be amputated.
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After the death of 2-year-old Miranda Eid, Miranda’s parents, Mohammed and Lisa Eid, filed a lawsuit against Loyola University Medical Center alleging negligent medical treatment following her pacemaker replacement surgery.

Lisa Eid also sought damages for reckless infliction of emotional distress based on Loyola’s nurses leaving medical tubing in place when Miranda’s body was released for burial. The Cook County jury returned a verdict in favor of Loyola; the Eids appealed.

On appeal, the Eid family argued that (1) the jury’s verdict in favor of Loyola on the claims of medical negligence and reckless infliction of emotional distress was against the manifest way of the evidence; (2) the circuit court erroneously upheld Loyola’s claim of privilege under section 8-2101 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (known as the Medical Studies Act) (735 ILCS 5/8-2101 et seq. (West 2012)) for information that was generated for the use of Loyola’s peer review committee when a designee of Miranda’s treatment and instructed another member of the committee to assemble information concerning the incident; (3) the circuit court improperly instructed the jury on the law concerning the claim of reckless infliction of emotional distress; and (4) defense counsel’s alleged improper remark during closing argument confused the jury, and the additional instructions the circuit court gave the jury did not correct the alleged confusion.
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John Doe, 48, had a history of hypertension, high cholesterol and smoking. When he experienced shortness of breath and chest tightness, he went to a local hospital emergency room where he underwent an EKG.  Dr. Roe, an emergency room physician, allegedly interpreted the EKG as “fairly normal” and instructed Doe to see his primary care physician as soon as possible and then obtain a cardiac consultation.

Two days later, Doe returned to the emergency room after suffering acute chest pain. Tests revealed an acute thrombus of the left anterior descending coronary artery and other cardiac disease.

Although Doe underwent an angioplasty and stenting, Doe died several months later of organ failure. He had been a corporate controller earning $117,000 per year. Doe was survived by his wife.

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The Illinois Appellate Court found that Advocate Christ Hospital should not have been dismissed from a wrongful-death lawsuit that involved pediatric cardiovascular surgeon Mary Jane Barth, M.D. The issue in the case was whether Advocate Christ Hospital could be held as the principal for the apparent agency of a doctor who practices there. The hospital argued that Dr. Barth was an independent contractor and thus, the plaintiff could not hold the hospital liable as the principal for any wrongful conduct of an agent (a doctor).

The First District Illinois Appellate Court found it was reasonable for the plaintiff, Natalie Hammer, to assume Dr. Barth was acting on behalf of Advocate Christ Hospital when she performed a number of operations on her husband, Jerry Hammer, who died in 2010.

Natalie Hammer filed a lawsuit against Advocate, Barth and Barth’s employer, Cardiovascular Surgeons Ltd. (CSL) for medical malpractice and wrongful death. The three-justice appellate court panel found that Advocate Christ Hospital could be held liable because Hammer demonstrated that Advocate did not carefully distinguish between itself and its independent doctors and that Hammer relied on Advocate to care for her husband.

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Mr. Doe, who was in his 60s, was admitted to a hospital for heart surgery. While he was recovering, healthcare personnel placed multiple lines in his body, including a central venous pressure catheter, which was replaced with a peripherally inserted central catheter line.

After Mr. Doe returned to his home, he began to experience chest pain and persistent arrhythmia. Arrhythmia is sometimes referred to as a malfunction of the heart’s electrical system. It occurs when the heart beats irregularly or improperly, meaning it beats too fast or too slow. The symptoms continued.

Mr. Doe then underwent testing over two years to determine the cause. A chest X-ray later revealed that his symptoms resulted from the presence of a foreign body. He underwent surgery to remove a fragment of a triple lumen catheter. Continue reading

Shronda Thomason suffered from a cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, which necessitated the implanting of a defibrillator. The treating cardiologist, Dr. John Gallagher, advised Thomason that she required a new pacemaker battery and the replacement of the defibrillator’s lead.

During the surgery, which was done in a hospital catherization lab, Thomason sustained a puncture and hole in her superior vena cava of her heart. Clearly, the hole resulted in profuse and immediate bleeding from that area of the heart. Dr. Gallagher called for a cardiothoracic surgeon to assist. Thomason was placed on cardiovascular bypass about an hour and a half later. By then, it was too late.

Because Thomason suffered excessive bleeding, she died. Thomason was a property specialist earning more than $50,000 annually and was survived by her four children, one of whom is a minor.

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Kevin Tolson was 49 years old when he was injured as the collapsible barrier he was walking over suddenly shot upward, entangling him. He was taken to the nearby hospital emergency room where he experienced symptoms, which included a cold left foot that he was unable to move, numbness and tingling in the foot as well as severe pain. X-rays were completed and a physician assistant diagnosed knee strain and released Tolson from the hospital with instructions to see an orthopedic surgeon.

When Tolson’s symptoms persisted, he consulted a local doctor who detected low pulse in his leg and instructed him to return to the hospital. An MRI revealed that all of the ligaments in Tolson’s left knee were damaged. Despite surgery, Tolson’s leg had to be amputated above the knee. He had been a security guard working two jobs at about $20 an hour, but is now able to hold only one position due to his medical condition.

Tolson sued the physician assistant and emergency room physician at the hospital and also named the hospital as a party defendant. It was alleged in the lawsuit that these medical providers chose not to diagnose a popliteal artery injury. Tolson claimed that based on his symptoms and the x-rays that were taken at the emergency room a dislocation and possible vascular injury could not be ruled out.

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