Articles Posted in Emergency Room Errors

Melissa Bain, in her capacity as the personal representative of the estate of her deceased husband Christopher Heath (“Heath”), appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Colbert County Northwest Alabama Health Care Authority d/b/a Helen Keller Hospital (“HKH”). Dr. Preston Wigfall was the emergency room physician working at the hospital on the night Heath was taken to the emergency room.

This matter began because Heath complained he had a lump in his throat that would not go away. When the pain became unbearable, he was taken to the hospital’s emergency room. In his history was the fact that his father had died of an aneurysm at the age of 47 and that he also had hypertension. He was on high blood pressure medication.

In the ER there was no evidence that the nurses on duty bothered to review his medical history with him. Dr. Wigfall, who was the emergency room physician on duty that night, did not remember if he took Heath’s medical history. Nothing was recorded in that respect.
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Kristine Haveman, 38, collapsed at home and was brought to a nearby hospital in an unresponsive condition. The emergency room personnel examined her and ordered a CT scan. Doctors interpreted the scans as normal. That evening a neurologist diagnosed a thrombus in the left cerebral artery, which necessitated thrombolytic therapy.

Because of the delay in diagnosis and treatment, she suffered cognitive deficits resulting in problems with speech and word retrieval. She also has experienced fatigue and right-sided weakness. She had been a teacher who planned to return to work but is now unable to do so.

Haven filed a lawsuit against Dr. Kenneth Dirk, an emergency room physician and his employer, Oregon Emergency Physicians, claiming that these defendants’ negligence was the cause of an eight-hour delay in administering thrombolytic medication.The lawsuit claimed that the CT scan had been misinterpreted and that Haveman was wrongfully treated with Ativan for anxiety and emotional problems before the neurologist’s stroke diagnosis.
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Michael Sebestl, 37, experienced the sudden onset of severe chest pain. This occurred at home around 6 a.m. on June 1, 2008. He told his wife he thought he was having a heart attack, so she called 911 and he was taken by ambulance to Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee, Ill. On the way to the hospital, he told the paramedics that he had a history of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and that his current symptoms were similar to those but worse than he had ever experienced.

At Riverside Hospital, Sebestl continued to complain of chest pain and a burning sensation on the back of his throat, which was worse when lying on his back. He was examined by the defendant emergency room physician Dr. Manczko, who was near the end of his 12-hour shift. Dr. Manczko interpreted the EKG as normal, ordered a chest x-ray and made a provisional diagnosis of GERD.

Then the care was turned over to another defendant ER physician, Dr. Donna Bell. After the x-ray came back negative, Dr. Bell decided to conduct a more thorough evaluation and ordered further testing, which included a second EKG and blood work for serial cardiac enzymes, Lipase and D-Dimer levels. After all the tests came back normal and the patient’s pain was reduced with narcotic pain medications to a level of 3 out of 10, Dr. Bell diagnosed GERD and discharged Sebestl from the hospital around noon that day.
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Nakeyia McMichael, a 33-year-old nurse, was hospitalized for treatment for a cerebral edema. Just 18 months later she returned to the hospital’s emergency room complaining of head pain, nausea and vomiting.

Two hospital emergency department residents and the defendant, Dr. John Pakiela, an osteopath employed by General Emergency Medical Specialists, diagnosed her with a migraine headache and discharged her with medicine. The very next day, she became unresponsive and died. The cause was determined to be brain herniation resulting from the cerebral edema or brain swell. McMichael was survived by her husband and three minor children.

The McMichael family sued Dr. Pakiela and his employer alleging that he failed to refer her to a neurologist for further workup. The McMichael family claimed that in light of her medical history, Dr. Pakiela should have reviewed her medical records before discharging her and should have considered cerebral edema as a possible cause of her renewed symptoms. The doctor should have ruled out the most deadly and dangerous of illnesses or conditions.

Dwayne Kantorowski underwent surgery to treat a brain tumor. He was just 45 years old, but he later experienced stroke-like symptoms. He promptly went to a hospital emergency room where he underwent an EKG. Although the test showed abnormalities, the attending emergency physician did not order additional blood tests or cardiac enzyme tests and did not refer him for a cardiology consultation. That failure to refer was the claimed cause of his resulting death

Kantorowski was hospitalized for several days and then discharged. Just three days later however, he suffered a heart attack that left him in a vegetative state for 3 weeks before he died. He was survived by his parents.

His family filed suit against the emergency room physician and the primary care physician who treated Kantorowski during his hospitalization. It was alleged that the doctors chose not to arrange for a cardiology consultation in light of the abnormal EKG, which indicated he had suffered a heart attack. The lawsuit did claim lost income.

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Janice Bishop presented to the emergency department at Graham Hospital in Canton, Ill., with complaints of chest pain on July 19, 2010. The emergency room physician ordered an EKG, which demonstrated non-specific T-wave changes compared to a prior 2007 EKG.

Multiple nitroglycerine injections and one Lovenox injection were administered to Bishop in the ER. She was then admitted to a post-coronary care unit under the attention of the defendant physician Dr. Patrick Renick. Serial EKGs were then done.

Dr. Renick discharged Bishop the next morning, July 20, 2010, with orders for a stress test to be done as an outpatient.  The outpatient stress test was scheduled for July 23, 2010, but she subsequently canceled it due to insurance coverage issues.

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Angelica Heavner, 41, went to the hospital emergency room for treatment of jaw and head pain. A hospital employee placed an IV into Heavner’s metacarpal vein on her right hand. The insertion of the IV caused her to develop a blister at that site, plus burning and stinging pain.

The IV was not removed immediately. Heavner developed complications and was later diagnosed with having complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) of the right hand, which necessitated medication and a spinal cord stimulator. CRPS, or reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, causes chronic pain in patients who have contracted it. The cause of CRPS is varied. In some cases, the cause of CRPS is the dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous system.

Heavner filed a lawsuit against the hospital, alleging its employee negligently inserted the IV, which resulted in nerve contact and thus was the cause of the CRPS. The lawsuit also maintained that the defendant’s failure to promptly identify the problem and remove the IV led to the chronic pain syndrome. There was no claim for lost income.

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Kastriot Sadiku, a 29-year-old student who had used oxycodone, went to a hospital suffering from vomiting and impaired respiration among other symptoms. He was seen by an internist, Dr. Joseph Hederman, who gave Sadiku supplemental oxygen and began to monitor his heart and blood oxygenation.

When Sadiku’s condition worsened, he was attached to a respirator.

About an hour and half later, Dr. Hederman consulted an intensivist, Dr. Steven Bonzino, who diagnosed acute respiratory distress. Dr. Bonzino adjusted Sadiku’s supplemental oxygen.

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In this Cook County, Ill., medical malpractice and wrongful death case, the hospital, Sisters of Saint Francis Health Services Inc. and Dr. Perry Marshall D.O. have appealed the jury’s verdict in favor of the family of the decedent, Georgia Tagalos.

On July 9, 2006, the plaintiff, Ted Fragogiannis accompanied by his mother, Georgia Tagalos, went to visit a friend in Bourbonnais, Ill. She was a long-time sufferer of asthma. During the ride home, Fragogiannis noticed that his mother began wheezing and gasping for air. She used two different inhalers, but her condition did not improve. She went into respiratory distress. Fragogiannis called 911 and arranged for an ambulance to meet them on the highway and take his mother to the hospital. According to the paramedics’ protocol, Tagalos was taken to St. Francis Hospital, which was the nearest hospital.

Tagalos arrived at the hospital at 1:45 p.m. and at that point she could no longer speak, but she was still responsive. Dr. Marshall was the emergency room’s attending physician. He was summoned by the nurse to address what had become a respiratory emergency. Dr. Marshall was at Tagalos’s bedside within minutes, but the parties disagreed about how many minutes elapsed. Dr. Marshall instructed a fourth year emergency room resident physician to see Ms. Tagalos and indicated that she might need to be intubated. The fourth year emergency resident, Dr. Julie Mills, assessed the patient and determined that an emergency intubation was required. At 1:56 p.m., 11 minutes after arriving at the hospital and while Dr. Mills was preparing for intubation, Tagalos became unresponsive.

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In this confidential settlement, a 13-year-old girl was sent to the hospital after she was involved in an automobile accident. She underwent an abdominal CT scan with contrast, which revealed a lacerated spleen with free fluid. The girl was referred to as “Doe” in this case for the purpose of maintaining confidentiality. Doe was transferred to a local hospital. An emergency room physician there reviewed the CT images with the radiologist. A pediatric surgeon also saw the scans.

Doe’s vital signs continued to worsen, and she complained of abdominal pain. A nurse notified the on-call resident of the worsening condition. This doctor diagnosed fluid shifting and ordered IV fluid and morphine.

The next morning a trauma surgeon ordered emergency surgery. Doe suffered a heart attack and required resuscitation before the procedure, which revealed a necrotic bowel resulting from the seatbelt injury in the automobile crash. Doe was then transferred to the ICU where she suffered a heart attack and died. The cause of death was determined to be septic shock resulting from seatbelt-related intra-abdominal injuries. Continue reading