Cook County Jury Finds For Doctor in Head Trauma Medical Negligence Case

On Feb. 13, 2008, Richard Potrawski was taken by ambulance to Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, Ill., after suffering a head injury during a slip and fall on ice.  Mr. Potrawski was brought to the emergency room at 12:30 pm.  He had a large contusion above his right eye and a medical history of congestive heart failure as well as atrial fibrillation for which he was taking Coumadin, a blood thinner.

Mr. Potrawski had the potential for a brain bleed, but the defendant ER physician, Dr. Melissa Uribes ordered a CT scan which was done at 2:30 pm.  A scan revealed a 1-cm left-sided subdural hematoma.

Little Company of Mary Hospital did not have a neurosurgeon on staff, so Dr. Uribes took steps to find a hospital with neurosurgical services that would admit Mr. Potrawski. 

Dr. Richard Temes at Rush University Medical Center agreed to take transfer of the patient. He  instructed Dr. Uribes to obtain the patient’s coagulation status and administer one unit of fresh frozen plasma to start the reversal of his anticoagulation before the transfer. 

Little Company of Mary Hospital nursing staff requested an ambulance at 2:30 pm.  The fresh frozen plasma was brought to the ER at 4:30 pm, but the ambulance  had not arrived.  At that point, Dr. Uribes decided to hold off the plasma because it would have delayed transport to Rush.  After the ambulance finally arrived, the plasma was sent to Rush with Mr. Potrawski.  Mr. Potrawski arrived at Rush’s neuro-intensive care unit around 6:40 that evening.

Mr. Potrawski suffered a brain hemorrhage sometime before 8:30 pm.  Surgery was done around 9 pm to evacuate the subdural hematoma.  However, Mr. Potrawski never recovered and died eleven days later on Feb. 24, 2008.

The Potrawski family alleged that Dr. Uribes deviated from the standard of care by failing to expedite the CT scan of the brain when it was first ordered at 12:30 pm and choosing not to expedite the order for plasma.  In addition, it was asserted by the family that Dr, Uribes chose not to make sure that transportation to Rush was done immediately, which led to Mr. Potrawski’s death.

The defendants asserted that the patient was neurologically stable at all times at Little Company of Mary Hospital and that there was no reason for expediting the CT scan. Defendants also said the fresh frozen plasma would not have been processed any faster than it was and the contended delay in the ambulance was not the emergency department or the physician’s fault.  The jury considered this case for just 45 minutes before reaching a verdict in favor of Dr. Uribes and the emergency services corporation that she worked under.

The demand to settle before trial was $2 million, which was the insurance policy limits.  The jury was asked to return a verdict of $5 million.  The offer to settle the case before trial was $0.

Estate of Richard Potrawski, deceased v. Evergreen Emergency Services, Ltd. and Dr. Melissa Uribes, No. 08 L 11066 (Cook County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Schaumburg, Itasca, Long Grove, Clarendon Hills, Chicago (Lincoln Park, Back of the Yards, Englewood, Hegewisch, East Side, Rogers Park), Palos Heights, Rosemont and Round Lake Beach, Ill.

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