Fall Following Knee Replacement Surgery Leads to Wound Infection and Subsequent Surgeries: Cook County Jury Awards $1.1 Million in Shiffman v. Northwest Community Hospital

A Cook County Illinois jury has entered a $1.1 million verdict in favor of a 62 year-old woman who fell at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Illinois after her knee replacement surgery. As a result of the fall, it was claimed that the new personal injuries sustained to her knee kept her disabled for more than 3 years. The Illinois medical negligence claim was filed in Cook County, Illinois; Shiffman v. Northwest Community Hospital, No. 07 L 9292.
At the time that the Illinois medical malpractice occurred, Arlyne Shiffman was a patient at Northwest Community Hospital. She had undergone a total left knee replacement surgery and was on her second day of recovery when the fall occurred. According to the Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit, Ms. Shiffman had been left alone by the nursing staff while up to the commode and was later found on the floor near the commode.
As a result of her fall, Ms. Shiffman’s surgical wound reopened, leaving it more susceptible to infection. The plaintiff did in fact contract an infection and required three additional surgeries, including a removal of the now-infected knee prosthesis. Ms. Shiffman also needed an antibiotic spacer inserted into her knee, which was left in for three months to ensure she remained infection-free. Her last, and hopefully final, surgery was a re-implantation of her knee prosthesis.

While infection is a known side effect of any surgical procedure, in Ms. Shiffman’s medical malpractice case the infection was not brought on by natural and unpreventable means, but was a direct result of her fall while in the hospital. By opening up her recently closed wound, the fall exposed her wound to the air, making it extremely susceptible to infection. In addition to the pain and additional medical expenses Ms. Shiffman incurred as a result of her infection, she also experienced pain from the fall itself. In an attempt to control her pain following her fall, the plaintiff was given a nerve block and required to wear an immobilizer.
At trial, the plaintiff’s medical expert testified that because of the severity of the infection that Ms. Shiffman developed after her fall, if the three subsequent surgeries she underwent had not been successful that she would have required a leg amputation. The plaintiff’s attorneys claimed that the hospital should have had a fall plan in place that included supervision of the plaintiff while on the commode, rather than leaving her alone and at risk for falling. The jury awarded $1.1 million against Northwest Community Hospital and its treaters, which included included $300,000 for pain and suffering; $300,000 for emotional distress, and $610,000 for medical expenses.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits for over 35 years in and around Cook County and Chicago, including Berwyn, Hoffman Estates, Evanston, and Palos Park.
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