Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

Vincent Lowe brought this medical malpractice lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Franklin County, Mo., against Bryan J. Menges, D.O. and James D. Cassat, M.D. and their employers, Mercy Hospital East Communities (“Mercy Hospital”) and Mercy Clinic East Community (“Mercy Clinic”). In the lawsuit, they alleged that as a result of these defendants’ choosing not to timely diagnose and treat the condition known as mesenteric ischemia, which caused inadequate blood supply to Lowe’s intestines, a substantial portion of his lower bowel had to be removed leaving him with short bowel syndrome, which will require extensive ongoing medical care.

At the jury trial, the jury signed a verdict in favor of Lowe for past and future economic and noneconomic damages totaling $14,245,545. The jury made comparative fault assessments of 65% to Dr. Menges and Mercy Hospitals, 25% to Dr. Cassat and Mercy Clinic and 10% to Lowe for a net verdict of $12,820,990.

Mercy took an appeal challenging the admission of the life care plan that was prepared and submitted into evidence by Lowe’s expert.
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Doe was 32 when he was taken to Roe Hospital’s emergency room suffering from abdominal distention, constipation and discomfort. There were a large number of patients in the emergency room at the time Doe came in. In the emergency department, Mr. Doe was brought to a hallway because of the overcrowding where hospital nurses attended to him. Over the course of several hours, Doe’s symptoms worsened. Hospital nurses administered a Fleet enema.

A later CT scan revealed that Mr. Doe had a bowel perforation. Surgery was considered but deemed to be too late. Mr. Doe suffered septic shock and then died a day later.

The lawsuit against the hospital alleged that it chose not to timely diagnose and treat Doe’s bowel perforation, which led to his untimely death. Before trial, the parties settled for $950,000.
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Then 2-year-old Doe was taken to a children’s hospital after suffering a fall. A pediatric resident, Dr. James Prosser, set Doe’s fractured right arm and placed a cast on the arm. Later that day, Doe was returned to the hospital, where another physician examined him again and discharged him.

Doe’s parents took the child back to the same hospital a third time. This time the staff removed the child’s cast. This led to a diagnosis of compartment syndrome and Volkmann’s ischemic contracture.

Doe is now 19 years old and has a deformed and shortened right arm, scarring, and lost function in two of his fingers.
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Often we hear about large awards paid to patients who were injured in hospitals or other health care facilities. An unusually large award was announced in the case of a brain-damaged woman. It is something of a landmark award because of the amount of money involved. The city announced it planned to appeal the award.

A Bronx jury awarded about $120 million to a woman who has been incapacitated since she was treated at three New York hospitals in 2004.

The award, by a State Supreme Court jury, was made in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Jacqueline Martin by her mother. Martin suffered brain damage after a series of hospital visits in February 2004.
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The Illinois Appellate Court rejected a claim by the plaintiff, Ludgardo R. Castillo, that expert testimony was required only to establish the applicable standard of care. Also, the trial court did not err in indicating to Castillo that she would have to pay money to the defendant to reimburse defense counsel for expenses incurred in attending a California evidence deposition of plaintiff’s expert taken days before the scheduled trial. If plaintiff wanted that expert to appear live at trial: (1) the record reflected that the plaintiff was never formally ordered to pay defendant anything; and (2) the plaintiff failed to show any prejudice by her inability to have expert testimony live.

Lastly, the trial court was in error in allowing the defendant to question the plaintiff’s physician as to whether syphilis could be a source of her pain where the plaintiff was never diagnosed with this condition. Since the error related only to plaintiff’s damages and the jury never considered such evidence as the jury held in favor of the defendant on the issue of liability.

The plaintiff, Ludgardo R. Castillo, appealed from a jury’s verdict in favor of the defendants, Dr. Jeremy Stevens and Center for Athletic Medicine (CAM), on plaintiff’s claim of medical negligence.
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David Scheer, the father of Matthew Scheer, drove his son to the emergency room at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center because David noticed that his son had added some disturbing posts on social media. Matthew was 26 at the time. He was also suffering from auditory and visual hallucinations. Matthew was diagnosed as having suffered a break from reality and was admitted to the hospital when he arrived.

As an inpatient, Matthew was seen by two hospitalists. While at this facility, Matthew became agitated, accused the nurses of being devil worshippers, and told staff that he wished to leave the facility.

The second attending hospitalist did not contact David Scheer, Matthew’s father, about his son’s intentions. He allowed Matthew to leave the hospital against medical advice during an Atlantic coast hurricane. Matthew disappeared and reportedly drowned in the Atlantic Ocean. His death certificate listed his death as a suicide. He is survived by his parents and sibling.
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The parents of a 22-year-old man were awarded $2.68 million by a jury after their son died when a hospitalist at Columbia Medical Center of Arlington, Texas, failed to order a CT scan and surgery to repair a hole in his liver.

The case was reported in the American Association of Justice Professional Negligence Law Reporter.

The patient, M.H., suffered flu symptoms over a two-week period. He was admitted to the Medical Center of Arlington, where he underwent an ultrasound-guided liver biopsy. Several hours later, a treating nurse noted that he was dizzy and sweating profusely.
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In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the judgment against the plaintiffs following a jury verdict in favor of the defendants. The state’s high court held that the circuit court did not commit reversible error when it refused to allow the plaintiffs’ attorney additional voir dire time so he could ask “the insurance question.” The lawyer had forgotten to ask it during his initial voir dire. The court referred to another Missouri case for support of its decision, Ivy v. Hawk, 878 S.W. 2d 442 (Mo. Banc 1994).

The Missouri Supreme Court has held that a party has the right to ask the insurance question during voir dire if the proper procedure is followed to avoid unduly highlighting the question. The Missouri Supreme Court noted, however, that Ivy did not divest the circuit court of its discretion to control the proper form and timing of voir dire questioning, including discretion as to whether counsel’s proposed procedure would unduly highlight the question.

The court then affirmed, holding that because plaintiff’s counsel forgot to ask the insurance question during multiple hours of voir dire, the court acted within its discretion. The lower court’s finding is that it would unduly highlight the question to allow counsel to recommence his questioning to ask the insurance question after voir dire had otherwise concluded.
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Dennis Davis, an Illinois prisoner suffering from kidney disease, received dialysis on a Saturday. He later told the prison nurse that his mind was fuzzy and his body was weak. Both of these complaints were similar to other side effects he had experienced in the past after dialysis treatment. The nurse called Dr. Francis Kayira, the prison’s medical director, who asked her whether Davis had asymmetrical grip strength, facial droop, or drooling. These are classic signs of a stroke.

When the nurse said “no,” Dr. Kayira determined that Davis was experiencing the same dialysis-related side effects as before rather than something more serious.

Dr. Kayira told the nurse to monitor Davis and call him if the symptoms worsened. Dr. Kayira did not hear anything for the rest of the weekend. On the following Monday morning, Dr. Kayira examined Davis and discovered that Davis in fact had suffered a stroke.
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Rodney Knoepfle, 67, suffered from significant health problems. He had a history of stroke and orthopedic and cardiac problems. Before all this took place, he executed an advance directive, which designated his wife to make healthcare decisions and stated his desire to forego life-sustaining healthcare treatment should that become necessary. In other words, he signed this directive stating that he did not wish to be resuscitated in case of a deteriorating medical condition.

When Knoepfle began feeling poorly, he was admitted to St. Peter’s Hospital. He provided his advanced directive to the nurses and staff who entered a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order into the hospital computer system.

However, two days later, Knoepfle became non-responsive, prompting a nurse to call for help. When no one responded to the call, the nurse called a code. The on-duty hospitalist, Dr. Lee Harrison, came to Knoepfle’s bedside and performed chest compressions for 10 to 15 minutes. Knoepfle was resuscitated; however, he then coded the following day. Dr. Harrison then gave Knoepfle adrenaline.
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