Cook County Verdict for Physicians in Death Related to Improper Care for Subdural Hematoma

Neal Nuss, age 73, was transported to St. James Hospital in Blue Island, Ill., on Sept. 5, 2006 following an auto accident. Nuss was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with subdural hematoma; he was evaluated by a neurosurgeon. 

Over the next three days, doctors determined that the subdural hematoma was not big enough to operate on. Nuss was discharged from the hospital on Sept. 8, 2006. The doctors planned to monitor his condition as an outpatient. The monitoring was overseen by the defendant Dr. Cheryl Woodson, the patient’s primary care physician.Dr. Woodson instructed Nuss to return as an outpatient to undergo a CT scan at St. James Hospital for comparison. Nuss followed up as directed and saw Dr. Woodson on September 12 and underwent the CT scan on September 13. The scans were interpreted by radiologist, Dr. Green.

The doctors concluded that Nuss’s condition was stable and his next follow-up visit was planned with the neurosurgeon five days ahead.

However, on Sept. 16, 2006, the day before the scheduled appointment with the neurosurgeon, Nuss was found semi-conscious in his bathtub at his home. He was taken to St. James Hospital where he was readmitted with a worsened subdural hematoma. 

This time surgery was necessary, but Nuss suffered a stroke and died at age 74 on Oct. 9, 2006. The Nuss family lawsuit contended that Dr. Woodson’s outpatient exam was below the standard of care because she chose not to appreciate the signs and symptoms of the worsening or expanding subdural hematoma. Further, Dr. Green, one of the defendants, chose not to appropriately and adequately review and interpret the outpatient CT scan and thus he too chose not identify and report the new bleeding that showed up on the scan. It was also alleged that the defendants’ negligence allowed Nuss to remain unmonitored between September 13 and September 17, 2006 leading to his demise.

The family of Mr. Nuss argued that Mr. Nuss was never in stable condition. He should have been evaluated by a neurosurgeon on Sept. 12 to Sept. 13, 2006 and that earlier intervention by a neurosurgeon would have prevented the hematoma from expanding. 

The defendants defended the case, stating that Dr. Woodson’s outpatient exam was correct, and she properly followed the discharge plan set forth by the treating neurosurgeon. The defense for Dr. Green, the radiologist, argued that the CT scan was properly interpreted and the imaging showed no worsening or expansion of the hematoma.

In addition, it is argued that no neurosurgical intervention was required between Sept. 8 and Sept, 17, 2006 based on the Nuss’s clinical status and that his worsening condition was a result of him slipping in the bathtub and striking his head.  The fall caused the stable hematoma to bleed again and the brain bleed was a new injury.

The jury apparently believed that the defendants’ arguments were more credible and found in favor of all defendants. 

There was no offer to settle the case before trial. The lawyer for the Nuss family asked the jury to return a verdict of $4,500,000.

The Estate of Neal Nuss v. Dr. Cheryl E. Woodson, M.D., et al., No. 08 L 9887.

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 medical professionals for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Harwood Heights, Chicago (Edison Park), Park Ridge, Schiller Park, Oak Forest, Orland Park, Crestwood, Chicago Ridge, Chicago Heights, North Chicago, Hinsdale, Berwyn, Chicago (Lincoln Park), Stickney and River Forest, Ill.

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