Articles Posted in Radiology Errors

This case arises out of an appeal taken after the Circuit Court of Cook County judge entered judgment on the verdict in favor of Dr. John Pantano and Suburban Lung Associates, S.C. in a medical malpractice action. The lawsuit, brought by the special administrator of the Estate of Viola Morrisroe, claimed that her death occurred after a bronchoscopy during which biopsies were performed by Dr. Pantano. It was asserted that the trial judge was in error for (1) barring Morrisroe’s expert from utilizing two CT scans during his testimony to demonstrate that the size of a mass in her lung had not increased in size; and (2) sustaining defense counsel’s objections to certain statements in plaintiff’s counsel’s closing argument relating to informed consent claim.

In 1999, Morrisroe was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema by pulmonologist Dr. Edward Diamond who was the president of Suburban Lung Associates, S.C. Her medical condition was monitored by Dr. Diamond and, in 2006, she began obtaining routine CT scans. In February 2009, a CT scan of her lungs indicated a new mass had formed in the upper right lobe. Dr. Diamond ordered further testing in the form of a PET scan. The PET scan indicated that, while unlikely, cancer could not be ruled out. Dr. Diamond discussed the results of the scans with her and recommended that another CT scan be performed in four months.

By 2009, Dr. Diamond’s examinations found that Morrisroe’s lung function had significantly decreased. While her lung function was at 40% in the beginning of the year, by the summer her lung function was only 26%, prompting Dr. Diamond to downgrade her COPD from “severe” to “very severe.”
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The appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court arose from the Circuit Court of Peoria County, which granted the motion of the defendants, Dr. Clarissa Rhode and Central Illinois Radiological Associates Ltd. The plaintiff — Randall Moon — filed a complaint under the Illinois Wrongful Act (740 ILCS 180/1, et seq.) and the Survival Act (755 ILCS 5/27-6). The complaint was dismissed as time-barred. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the dismissal and held that the two-year statute of limitations for filing the complaint began to run at the time of the decedent’s death and not after the plaintiff discovered defendants’ alleged medical negligence.

On May 18, 2009, Randall Moon’s mother, 90-year-old Kathryn Moon, was admitted to Proctor Hospital in Peoria, Ill., for rectal prolapse. On May 20, 2009, she underwent a perineal proctectomy. During her hospitalization, she experienced numerous complications including labored breathing, pain, fluid overload, pulmonary infiltrates, pneumoperitoneum, sepsis and an elevated white blood cell count.

On May 23, a CT scan of her chest and abdominal area was ordered. Dr. Rhode, a radiologist, read the CT scans on May 24, 2009. Randall W. Moon, who is Kathryn Moon’s son and the plaintiff in this case, returned from out-of-state to his mother’s bedside on the evening of May 27, 2009. Her oxygen levels had significantly dropped and she was not awake or responsive. Two days later she died in the hospital.
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Thirteen-year-old Doe became ill and developed a high fever. Doe’s mother brought him to a Kaiser Permanente Urgent Care facility where Doe underwent testing. Before all the tests were returned, Doe was discharged and told to see his primary care physician in a week or two. It was revealed that one of the tests indicated a high sedimentation rate. There was no follow-up regarding this test result.

Doe’s condition worsened over the next week. He was brought into a hospital emergency room where testing showed lesions on his brain. Doe suffered a stroke during surgery, which necessitated another surgery as well as physical therapy and other treatment.

Fortunately, Doe has made a complete recovery. Doe sued Kaiser Foundation Health Plan alleging that it chose not to timely diagnose the sinus infection.

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Leanna Loud was 39 years old when she underwent a digital mammogram. The radiologist and defendant, Dr. Jeffrey Short, an employee of Charleston Radiologists, read the mammogram as showing dystrophic calcifications in the right breast; this was not present on an earlier mammogram.

Dr. Short characterized the calcifications as benign and did not order any additional testing.

Approximately 2 years later, she discovered a lump in her right breast. She was diagnosed as having Stage III invasive ductal carcinoma.

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Glenn Garofano, 63, underwent an ultrasound of his gallbladder, which revealed gallstones and a 4-cm mass on his liver. He then underwent a CT scan, which radiologist Dr. Clifford Barker reported as showing no evidence of a mass. Dr. Barker also suggested that Garofano consider an MRI. Thirteen months later, Garofano was hospitalized for Lyme disease and underwent testing, which led to a diagnosis of metastatic liver cancer that had spread to his heart.

Garofano died two months after the diagnosis and was survived by his wife and three adult children. His family filed a lawsuit against Dr. Barker alleging that he chose not to order the MRI or a liver biopsy in light of the previous test results. It was claimed that had adequate testing been done and a timely diagnosis been received, Garofano would have had a 42% chance of survival. The lawsuit does not claim lost income. Thus, the lawsuit was for the lost opportunity to save Garofano from his untimely death. The jury’s verdict was for $7 million.

The attorney representing the Garofano family was Paul A. O’Connor.

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Curtis Cole, 58, underwent a chest X-ray when he reported respiratory symptoms to his physician. A radiologist, Dr. Mike Mantinaos, interpreted the X-ray as showing no nodular abnormalities.

About 3 years later however, Cole experienced pain, prompting him to request a chest and abdominal CT scan. The CT scan revealed a mass on his right lung as well as several in his liver, which were determined to be malignant.

Cole died of cancer two years later and was survived by his wife and adult son. He had been a senior application specialist in a metal manufacturing company earning $35,000 per year.

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Anna Rahm, 17, began experiencing back pain without relief. Anna’s parents took her to a chiropractor who suggested that she be taken to a physician so that she could undergo an MRI scan. Anna met with her primary care physician at Southern California Permanente Medical Group and was prescribed steroids.

Anna’s mother requested that Anna receive an MRI in light of her 8 months of back pain. However, the doctor said that she could not authorize the test. Anna consulted a physical medicine physician at the HMO clinic who denied her request for an MRI and instead recommended an epidural injection and exercise.

Anna’s back pain increased despite attempts to treat it with acupuncture.

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On Aug. 17, 2012, 66-year-old Maria Giotta underwent an outpatient CT scan with contrast at the Presence Resurrection Hospital. She began to experience an adverse reaction to the contrast solution during the scan, but the CT technician chose not to recognize or appreciate her dilemma. The CT technician discharged her from his care despite the fact that she was still hot, flushed and dizzy.

Just moments after she left the radiology department she experienced a fainting episode in the hospital hallway and collapsed to the floor landing on her left hand. Giotta sustained displaced proximal phalanx fractures of all four fingers on the left hand, two of which were open fractures requiring emergency open reduction internal fixation and six months of physical therapy. She had expended $32,340 for medical expenses. She continues to have permanent left hand stiffness, pain and limited grip strength.

Her attorneys, Michael S. Fiorentino and Samantha L. Israel, represented her and made a demand before trial of $395,000. Giotta’s attorneys asked the jury in closing argument to return a verdict of $1.6 million. The only offer made by the hospital to settle this case was $75,000.

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Three years after the death of Kathryn Moon, the plaintiff, Randall Moon, who served as executor of his mother’s estate, filed a wrongful death and survival action lawsuit against the defendants, Dr. Clarissa Rhode and Central Illinois Radiological Associates Ltd. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint stating that the complaint was filed untimely. The trial judge granted the defendants’ motion.

The plaintiff appealed arguing that the trial court was wrong in granting the defendants’ motion. The plaintiff contended that the discovery rule applied in that the statute of limitations did not begin to run until the date in which he knew or reasonably should have known of the defendants’ negligent conduct.

The decedent was Kathryn Moon, then 90, who was admitted to Proctor Hospital on May 18, 2009. Two days later, Dr. Jeffrey Williamson performed surgery on her. She remained in the hospital from May 20 to May 23, 2009 and then was seen by a different doctor from May 23 to May 28. She died on May 29, 2009.

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On Jan. 8, 2008, Nicole Yerkovich, who was 35 at the time, was taken by ambulance to the emergency department at LaGrange Memorial Hospital because of severe abdominal pain and nausea. The ER doctor at the hospital ordered a contrast CT scan of her abdomen and pelvis to see if she was suffering from an appendicitis attack. The CT scan was initially read by a teleradiologist who reported she could not visualize the appendix and therefore could not rule out appendicitis. The teleradiologist recommended the hospital’s doctors obtain the delayed images to get better visualizations of the appendix and noted a moderate amount of free fluid in the pelvis, which could have been due to a ruptured cyst.

The following morning, the in-house radiologist, Dr. Vladislav Gorengaut, reviewed the same CT scan and reported there were no definite findings to suggest appendicitis. He noted there were ascites, which may be caused by peritonitis, and there could be a gynecological issue such as a ruptured hemorrhagic ovarian cyst. Ascites refer to the accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity in the abdominal area.

Based upon the first report of Dr. Gorengaut, the emergency department doctor canceled the delayed CT scan and instead admitted Yerkovich to gynecology and ordered a pelvic ultrasound. Dr. Gorengaut read the ultrasound and reported there was echogenic fluid most likely representing blood from a ruptured ovarian cyst.

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