Articles Posted in Psychiatry Negligence

In a medical malpractice case brought against an expert witness who was alleged to have misdiagnosed the plaintiff in a prior malpractice case, Philip W. Sandler sued Jerry J. Sweet, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist who was retained as a defense expert when Sandler sued Downers Grove-based Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital.

Sandler asserted that Dr. Sweet chose not to correctly diagnose the extent of the brain injury he allegedly suffered because of Advocate’s negligence.

The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the judgment that dismissed the complaint against Dr. Sweet and explained, “Because physicians conducting medical examinations at the request of third parties assume a fundamentally different role from treating physicians, no physician-patient relationship exists between Dr. Sweet and the plaintiff and, therefore, Dr. Sweet owed no duty of care to the plaintiff.”
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A 16-year-old girl was incarcerated at a county juvenile detention center.She had a history of chronic depression and other mental health issues, was noted to be irritable and at risk for self-injurious behavior and suicide.

During her approximately two-month stay, this young woman was placed on suicide watch many times. Medications included Abilify, which was prescribed to help with her mood and anxiety.

This detainee experienced chest pains and increased anxiety. She asked the probation officer if she could see a mental health expert. The next day she complained to a physician that the Abilify was not working and that she was experiencing panic attacks. The doctor referred the young woman to a psychiatrist. Several hours later however, the woman barricaded herself in her room and hanged herself with a bedsheet. She is survived by her parents.

Gregory Cotter was 42 years old and had a history of alcoholism and mental health problems. He was also diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. He had attempted suicide.

After attempting suicide, Cotter was admitted to St. Francis Hospital where Dr. Sadaf Ahsan, the former director of the psychiatry department, treated him. After a 5-day period, Cotter was released to the custody of a friend.

Cotter disappeared one day later. His body was found with deep stab wounds, and his death was ruled suicide. Cotter, who had been earning about $40,000 a year as a painter, was survived by his wife.

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John Dux was alleged to have committed suicide because of a medical-malpractice incident at the Hines Veterans Administration Hospital in Maywood, Ill. The lawsuit brought by his daughter was filed against the United States government under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which included a claim for wrongful death.

The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The U.S. district judge who considered the case had to decide whether Illinois precedent on proximate causation blocked the wrongful-death claim.

With two exceptions, Illinois follows the traditional rule that “a plaintiff may not recover for a decedent’s suicide following a tortious act because suicide is an independent intervening event that the tortfeasor cannot be expected to foresee.” Luss v. Village of Forest Park, 377 Ill.App.3d 318 (2007).

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Joel Burnette was just 40 years old with bipolar disorder and other mental health issues. He underwent a lumbar epidural steroid injection at a pain clinic to combat his back pain. The following week Burnette developed a lump at the epidural injection site. Burnette informed nurses at the pain clinic, and he was told by a nurse that this was not something to be concerned about. Days later, Burnette received a second epidural injection. After that second injection, Burnette developed an epidural abscess, deep tissue infection and MRSA meningitis and was diagnosed as having cauda equina syndrome, which left him with chronic pain, among other problems.

Cauda equina is a condition in which the nerves in the spine are compressed. MRSA meningitis is an uncommon disease that affects the lining around the brain and spinal cord. It can be fatal. MRSA alone is a bacterial infection that if not treated and eradicated by intense antibiotic treatment can be deadly. Burnette unfortunately later committed suicide

Burnette was survived by his parents who sued the anesthesiologist, Kimber Eubanks, M.D. and the pain clinic claiming that all were negligent in choosing not to identify the infection after the first injection and giving a second injection to an infected patient.

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Anthony Imparato Sr. arrived at the University of Chicago’s emergency room on March 27, 2005.  It was the one-year anniversary of his wife’s death. He complained of insomnia for five days, depression and financial ruin because of his gambling debt.

Mr. Imparato was 51 and a Chicago firefighter. He was seen in the emergency department by the defendant physician, Dr. Becker, and a psychiatry resident, Dr. Dakwar. Another emergency medicine resident, Derek Timmermann, also saw Mr. Imparato.

The attending psychiatrist, Dr. Phan, consulted with Dr. Dakwar over the telephone. The doctors quoted Mr. Imparato as stating that death had crossed his mind, that he had hit rock bottom and that he had thoughts of suicide. However, the chart showed many times that Mr. Imparato denied suicidal ideations, an intent or plan.

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