Cook County Jury Finds for Doctor in Unnecessary Bronchoscopy that Caused Fatal Bleeding

Viola Morrisroe was diagnosed with COPD and emphysema in 1999. She was under the care of Dr. Edward Diamond of Suburban Lung Associates as her primary pulmonologist. In February 2009, a CT scan of her chest revealed a soft tissue density in the right upper lobe of her lung.

Dr. Diamond referred her for a PET scan, which was done in late April 2009, showing a standardized uptake valve that was elevated, but not high enough to be suspicious for lung cancer.

Dr. Diamond’s plan was to repeat the CT scan in about 4 months.

In September 2009, Morrisroe, who was 71, was admitted to Alexian Brothers Medical Center where a CT angiogram was done.

Dr. John E. Pantano was called in for a pulmonary consultation on Sept. 30, 2009. After comparing the two CT scans and examining the patient, Dr. Pantano recommended that she undergo a bronchoscopy for further evaluation of the lung density. Dr. Pantano informed her of the risks of prolonged sedation, pneumothorax, which is a collapsed lung and/or bleeding, but did not warn her that there was a risk of death.

Dr. Pantano performed the bronchoscopy on Oct. 1, 2009. Some bleeding was encountered in one biopsy area, but he was able to stop the bleeding with epinephrine and pressure. Morrisroe at first did well in the recovery room, but her condition then deteriorated.

Dr. Pantano performed an intubation and transferred Viola to the intensive care unit but she died in the ICU just 30 minutes later. She was retired and survived by her wheelchair-bound husband and four adult children. An autopsy revealed that the bleeding had occurred in the right upper lung, resulting in her death.

The family brought this lawsuit contending that the bronchoscopy was unnecessary because the radiologist who reviewed the CT scan described the findings as stable, Dr. Diamond’s plan was to merely monitor the density, the PET scan did not suggest the density was cancer and lastly that Morrisroe’s age and condition would not have warranted systemic treatment for lung cancer.

The family also alleged that Dr. Pantano chose not to obtain an informed consent prior to undergoing the bronchoscopy procedure. The defendants also argued that the bronchoscopy was indicated because the patient’s medical condition had deteriorated (she needed more oxygen, she needed steroids, and her pulmonary function test were worse), and a bronchoscopy would reveal an airway obstruction that could be treated to improve respiratory function regardless of whether the obstruction was due to cancer.

The defendants also denied that the radiologist had compared the sizes of the densities since her report listed no measurements, while based on Dr. Pantano’s review, the density had clearly enlarged. The defendants denied that the standard of care required Dr. Pantano to tell his patient that there was a chance she could die because the risk of death was a very remote possibility. The jury found in favor of both Dr. Pantano and Suburban Lung Associates and against the family of Morrisroe. At trial and in closing arguments, the attorneys for the family of Morrisroe asked the jury to return a verdict between $2–5 million. There was no offer to settle the case made by defendants before or during the trial.

Estate of Viola Morrisroe v. Dr. John E. Pantano, Suburban Lung Associates, No. 11 L 5639 (Cook County, Ill.).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence cases, birth injury cases, wrongful death cases and nursing home abuse 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 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Lisle, Lockport, Plainview, Bolingbrook, Bellwood, Maywood, Melrose Park, Vernon Hills, Buffalo Grove, Orland Park, Arlington Heights, Antioch, Round Lake Beach, Crystal Lake, Naperville, Joliet, Rosemont and Lincolnwood, Ill.

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