Articles Posted in Cardiovascular Surgery Errors

Mr. Doe, a 59-year-old carpenter, suffered from myocarditis. He was placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) heart transplant list.

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle. The condition can affect the heart muscle and the heart’s electrical system, reducing the heart’s ability to pump. It can cause rapid or abnormal heart rhythms (arrythmias).

In many cases, myocarditis is caused by a viral infection. A severe case can weaken the heart, which can lead to heart failure, abnormal heart rate and sudden death. Under these circumstances, a heart transplant may be necessary.
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A Texas Appellate Court has held that a hospital internist was not liable for medical negligence. The case arises out of his choosing not to timely diagnose a post-surgical patient’s condition and then consult with the patient’s treating neurosurgeon.

Charles Collins underwent neck surgery performed by neurosurgeon Dr. Shanker Sundraini. The afternoon of the surgery, Collins developed worrisome symptoms, including numbness and weakness in his extremities.

Hospital staff called Dr. Sundraini; nurses noted the following morning that Collins had movement in his extremities but could not grip.
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A jury reached a not guilty verdict against defendant Dr. Glenn A. Woudenberg, Louis A. Weiss Memorial Hospital, Vanguard Health Systems and MN Anesthesia LLC in the death of a steelworker who underwent a right hip revision surgery and died two days later.

The case was reported in the Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter.

The steelworker, E.C., underwent surgery Oct. 9, 2007. He incurred $109,000 in medical bills. His estate contended that the death was caused by episodes of low blood pressure during the surgery, which led to an ischemic injury to the kidney, bowel and other vital organs.
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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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