Articles Posted in Surgical Errors

On Oct. 5, 2012, the defendant in this case, Dr. Yasser Alhaj-Hussein, completed a celiac plexus block procedure designed to lessen or alleviate the pain that Kathy Arient was experiencing in her abdominal area. The procedure was done at Orland Park Medical Center and involved alcohol inserted into the spine to destroy select nerves.

Following the procedure, Arient complained of numbness in her legs and was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph’s Hospital. It was there that it was determined that she had been rendered paraplegic. Arient and her husband, Terry Arient, filed a lawsuit against Dr. Hussein and other defendants alleging medical negligence in performing the celiac block. The suit also included a claim for loss of consortium.

Unfortunately, Arient died on June 9, 2014. The lawsuit was amended to include a wrongful-death and survival action against both Dr. Hussein and Illinois Anesthesia and Pain Associates and Orland Park Surgical Center. Orland Park Surgical moved to be dismissed as a defendant; the trial judge agreed.
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In a confidential report of this case, Doe, age 55, underwent a laparoscopic cholecystectomy performed by a surgeon and partner. During the procedure, the surgeon was concerned that one of the trocars used could have perforated the patient’s small bowel. A trocar is a medical device used in surgery and placed through the abdomen during laparoscopic surgery.

The surgeon told his associates, including his partner, that if the patient developed complications after her discharge, the diagnosis of a perforated small bowel should be considered.

The patient later called the surgical group advising them that she was experiencing persistent vomiting and severe pain. The surgeon advised her to go to the emergency room. There the patient reported severe abdominal pain. Testing revealed an elevated white count, and a CT scan showed extensive free air and fluid in her naval area. At the hospital, a radiologist diagnosed a possible perforation related to the recent surgery, a small bowel obstruction and an abdominal abscess.
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Carson Sofro, 33, was diagnosed with having a malignant tumor in his colon. He underwent a resection performed by a colorectal surgeon, Dr. Benjamin Karsten at St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center. After removing the tumor, Dr. Karsten connected the colon and small bowel.

Sofro suffered a variety of symptoms after the surgery, including pain, vomiting and bloating. He sought treatment at St. Luke’s and was told that his symptoms were a normal complication of the surgery. Sofro continued to experience these symptoms for more than two years before being diagnosed as having a 360-degree twist in his small bowel. That condition required another resection, causing him to miss one month of work from his job as the owner of a basketball camp.

Sofro filed a lawsuit against St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center alleging liability by Dr. Karsten choosing not to ensure that the small bowel was not twisted before creating the anastomosis. There was a claim of lost income of $15,000. Anastomosis is a surgical procedure connecting adjacent blood vessels, parts of the intestine or other channels of the body.
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Matthew Hipps, 44, was to undergo abdominal surgery, which required stenting of his urethra. He consented to having the catherization done by the head of the urology department at Virginia Mason Medical Center. While in the midst of the catherization, a urology fellow placed a tube inside Hipps’s urethra, which met with resistance. The fellow then used a hemostat to open the tip of Hipps’s penis before placing the catheter inside the urethra. A hemostat, which is also called a hemostatic clamp, is a surgical tool most often used to control bleeding.

As a result of the forced opening of the urethra, Hipps suffered a tear and developed scarring inside his urethra. He now suffers discomfort when engaging in intercourse and has difficulty urinating.

Hipps sued the hospital alleging that the fellow negligently used the hemostat during the procedure and improperly dilated the urethra. The lawsuit did not include lost income.
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In this medical malpractice lawsuit, injuries were suffered by the plaintiff, Lisa Swift, during a 2010 laparoscopic hysterectomy by the defendant Dr. David J. Schleicher. During this surgical procedure, Dr. Schleicher perforated Swift’s small bowel with three through-and-through holes. The doctor chose not to diagnose the perforations until four days after the surgery. Swift developed sepsis, needed a bowel resection surgery and then suffered additional complications that required hospitalization and home health care.

In addition to Dr. Schleicher, Swedish American Health System Corp. and its related companies were also made defendants. These defendants admitted that they caused the injury but argued that the injuries were not the result of negligence. At the end of the jury trial, the jury agreed with defendants and found in favor of them and against Swift.

The plaintiff Swift filed a motion for a new trial, which was denied by the trial court. As a result, Swift took an appeal arguing that the trial judge committed reversible error by (1) allowing evidence that plaintiff’s expert, Dr. Robert Dein, caused a bowel injury in 1989; (2) allowed cumulative defense testimony; and (3) declined to find the verdict against the manifest weight of the evidence.
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Lynne Niemynski, 63, suffered from stress incontinence. She saw Dr. Arthur Thorpe Jr. a gynecologist, who recommended a transobturator urethral sling to improve her condition. She underwent this procedure.

However, for the next nine months, she complained of worsening symptoms, including bladder spasms, discharge and bleeding. Even with application of creams and other medications, her symptoms continued on.

Niemynski finally met with another gynecologist who examined her bladder and discovered a section of surgical mesh that had golf-ball sized crystalline stone growing from it.
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James P. McKillip underwent a sleeve gastrectomy for weight reduction at a hospital in Rock Island, Ill. This took place in January 2012 by the defendant general surgeon, Dr. James Schrier. McKillip was 46 years old at the time.

According to the report of this jury trial, McKillip’s expert testified at trial that Dr. Schrier improperly stapled the nasogastric tube into McKillip’s stomach and also was negligent in creating a hole at the junction between the esophagus and his stomach.

As a result, McKillip suffered from two large perforations and gastric leaks at these two sites in the stomach, which caused him to develop sepsis and undergo three months of antibiotic therapy. Eventually he will require additional surgery to remove the remaining portion of his stomach.
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Ezekiel Flores, 89, was admitted to MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, Ill., in January 2013 for complaints of leg pain. While he was there, an abdominal CT scan came back with abnormal results, which led the doctors to suspect possible colon cancer over diverticulitis.

The defendant gastroenterologist, Dr. Manuel Alva, did a colonoscopy on Jan. 11, 2013. It showed there was no cancer. However, during the procedure Flores sustained a perforated colon, which led to nearly fatal sepsis, a colostomy for eleven months and later a colonostomy reversal surgery in combination totaled medical expenses of $201,950.

Flores maintained at this jury trial that he refused to undergo the colonoscopy several times but the defendants, the physicians, persisted and persuaded him to do so without fully disclosing the risks and alternatives and thus choosing not to obtain Flores’s informed consent.
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Nerisa Williams was 43 years old when she underwent a hysterectomy that was completed by her gynecologist, Dr. Kenneth Baker. During the surgery, Dr. Baker unknowingly transected or cut Williams’s ureter. The ureter is made up of two tubes of smooth muscle fibers that propel urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder in an adult. The ureters are paired and described as muscular ducts with narrow openings that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

Because of the transection of the ureter, Williams developed permanent urinary incontinence.

She sued Dr. Baker, alleging that his negligent conduct in the surgery led to the need for a second surgery, which caused even more medical complications.
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Elizabeth McNamara was 63 when she underwent a right hip replacement that was done by an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. David Weissberg. After the surgery, she developed right foot drop and was diagnosed as having an injured peroneal nerve.

McNamara continued to suffer the foot drop and numbness in her right leg — problems that caused her to fall and necessitated the use of a leg brace for walking and modifications to her car so that she was able to drive.

McNamara and her husband filed a lawsuit against Dr. Weissberg, maintaining that the nerve injury resulted from either his misplacement of a surgical retractor or application of excessive force on the right leg during the surgery.
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