Cook County Jury Sides with Family Practice Physician in Claim of Failure to Diagnose and Treat Bacterial Endocarditis

The plaintiff, Brian Dore, was 70 and retired when he saw his family practice physician, the defendant, Dr. Bradford Wainer.  It was April 16, 2012, and Dore complained of severe right shoulder pain when he started to play golf in March 2012. Dr. Wainer palpated something suspicious under Dore’s skin in the upper shoulder/chest area and heard a heart murmur.  Dr. Wainer ordered rib and chest x-rays, which were completed that day.  He also ordered a transthoracic echocardiogram for the following day.

The x-ray showed opacity in the upper right lung and potential pathologic fractures. The echocardiogram showed thickening of the mitral heart valve and small light mitral regurgitation, which the defendant doctor maintained was consistent with mitral systolic murmur and not indicative of any disease. Mitral regurgitation is the condition of a patient whose heart valve, the valve of the left of the heart, doesn’t close all the way and allows blood to flow back into the chamber. This would happen each time the mitral valve would close. It’s a dangerous condition.

Dr. Wainer then ordered blood tests and CT scans. The blood work showed mildly elevated white blood cell count, platelets and sedimentation rate as well as low hemoglobin (10.5), all of which were indicative of anemia.

The radiologist who performed the CT called Dr. Wainer to report the results, which were highly suspicious for cancer. Dore had been a smoker for over 50 years.

Dr. Wainer arranged for an expedited biopsy, but did not order a work-up for possible infection.

Dore’s experts at trial testified that the blood work coupled with the new onset of the murmur was indicative of endocarditis, which is an infection around the heart. The experts for the plaintiff also testified that at a minimum, blood cultures were required to rule out endocarditis.

Dore was admitted to MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, Ill., on April 23, 2012 with even higher white blood count and neutrophils and lower hemoglobin, all of which were signs of an ongoing infection. He was given IV fluids, received a blood transfusion on April 24, 2012, underwent a biopsy which came back negative for malignancy and underwent a second biopsy on April 25, 2012.

A hospitalist ordered blood cultures, which were performed shortly before Dore was discharged from MacNeal Hospital on April 25.  The preliminary culture results were positive on April 26, 2012, but it was disputed whether this was reported to Dr. Wainer.

The hospitalist, Dr. Jennifer Sardone, contended she had phoned Dr. Wainer with the results, which he denied.  The Dore experts testified that Dr. Wainer had a duty regardless to check the physician portal to review those results before sending Dore for a follow-up visit on April 27, 2012, and he should have immediately hospitalized Dore and started IV antibiotic therapy.

Instead, Dore was sent home with staph aurous bacterial endocarditis, which remained undiagnosed and untreated until May 1, 2012, by which time his condition had deteriorated and he was hospitalized.

Endocarditis is a dangerous bacterial infection that can compromise the heart muscle, heart valves or lining of the heart.

As a result, Mr. Dore suffered two strokes, destruction of a portion of an aortic valve, lodged pleural fusion which could not be drained, extended placement on a ventilator, aortic valve replacement surgery and expansion of two-pre-existing aneurysms, aortic arch and abdominal aorta requiring even more surgery in December. Dore’s medical expenses alone were $1,350,000.

Dore’s attorneys contended that he was extremely active prior to the occurrence, but became substantially disabled following. The defendants denied negligence contending that it was reasonable for Dr. Wainer to believe Dore had lung cancer based on his long-term tobacco habit, the onset of acute bacterial endocarditis did not occur until May 1 and therefore antibiotic therapy on April 27 would not have changed the outcome.

The defendants further maintained that the sole proximate cause was the actions of others (the hospital or a different physician) or possibly the staph infection itself.  A settlement with the hospital, previously reported, took place before the start of this trial.  Unfortunately, the jury’s verdict of not guilty was entered against both the defendants Dr. Bradford Wainer and his professional corporation.

The plaintiff’s counsel has filed post-trial motions which are still pending.

The attorneys representing Dore were Chicago attorneys Robert J. Napleton and Bradley C. Schulman. The demand to settle the case before trial was $2 million. The jury was asked to return a verdict of $6,410,000. There was no report of an offer made by Dr. Wainer or his professional corporation. Based on the jury verdict report, MacNeal Hospital had previously settled before trial for $675,000.

At trial, plaintiff’s counsel presented experts in family practice medicine, infectious disease cardiology and medical billing.  The defendants submitted experts who testified in infectious disease, family practice and cardiothoracic surgery.

Brian Dore v. Dr. Bradford Wainer, et al., No. 13 L 936 (Cook County, Ill.).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence cases, misdiagnosis of cancer cases, hospital negligence cases, nursing negligence cases, birth trauma injury lawsuits and nursing home abuse cases for individuals and families who have been injured or killed by the negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas including, Tinley Park, River Grove, Antioch, Arlington Heights, Elk Grove Village, Bensenville, Beecher, Calumet City, Deerfield, Elmhurst, Franklin Park, Grayslake, Hinsdale, Inverness, Joliet, Long Grove, Kenilworth, Mount Prospect, Naperville, Orland Park and Prospect Heights, Ill.

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