Dialysis Patient Dies Because of Overloaded Fluids

Katherine Crawford was admitted to Westlake Community Hospital for shortness of breath and hypotension following an arterial venous fistula repair surgery of Sept. 17, 2005. She was 38 years old and was an end-stage renal disease patient. Crawford had been on dialysis for 11 years. Her medical history also included COPD, obstructive sleep apnea, chronic hypotension, hypertension and pulmonary hypertension.

The defendant internist, Dr. Karim Yunez, was the attending physician for the hospitalization of Sept. 17, 2005 and had previously treated Crawford during prior admissions to the hospital.

The defendant nephrologist, Dr. Constantine Dellis, was consulted to handle the patient’s dialysis needs during her hospitalization.

Dr. Yunez also consulted with a cardiologist, pulmonologist, endocrinologist and infectious disease specialist during this admission.

Because Crawford had severe hypotension, fluid resuscitation was required. She was already taking the vasopressor medication Midodrine, but her blood pressure remained unstable and then dipped to dangerously low levels during dialysis, making fluid removal less effective than expected.

Crawford’s blood pressure continued to be unsteady over the next week.

On Sept. 23, 2005, Crawford was noted as being confused and agitated with signs of excessive fluid. She was transferred to the intensive care unit and remained there until Sept. 25, when she coded twice and then died. The code record showed she had pulseless electrical activity.

The family of Katherine Crawford brought this lawsuit maintaining that the defendants, the doctors, administered excessive fluid resuscitation in light of the ineffective fluid removal due to Crawford’s hypertension, the defendants should have tapered down or stopped the fluids on Sept. 23 and Levophed should have been initiated sooner. It was also maintained that alternative dialysis methods should have been considered and choosing not to decrease the fluid administration caused or contributed to the pulmonary edema, congestive heart failure and Crawford’s death.

The defendants argued that the patient’s death was due to her severe pulmonary hypertension, which had led to a condition known as Cor Pulmonale (a form of heart failure), and pathology results showed only a “few” pulmonary alveoli had edema, or fluid buildup in the lungs.

The jury was asked to return a verdict of $1,300,000. However, the jury returned a verdict in favor of all of the physicians finding that the doctors had not been negligent or a contributing cause to Crawford’s untimely death..

Estate of Katherine C. Crawford v. Dr. Constantine Dellis, D.O., Associates in Nephrology S.C., et al., No. 07 L 910 consol. w/13 L 3360 (Cook County, Ill.)

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling hospital negligence cases, medical negligence 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 Hillside, Berkeley, Elmhurst, Elmwood Park, River Grove, Norwood Park, Niles, Lockport, St. Charles, Geneva, Mundelein, Glendale Heights, Joliet and Hinsdale, Ill.

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