Illinois Jury Finds in Favor of Doctors in Stroke Case

A Will County jury has found that a stroke suffered by the son of Kathy Nakamura was not preventable by anticoagulant treatment by his physicians. In this medical-malpractice lawsuit, it was alleged that several physicians chose not to treat the medical conditions of Kathy Nakamura’s son, Joseph Welsh, which led to his suffering two strokes in five months. He was left with severe mental deficiencies after the second stroke in April 2009.

Welsh was admitted to Edward Hospital in Naperville, Ill., in November 2008. He was seen by neurologist Konstantine Dzamashvili, M.D. and Rizwan Bajwa, M.D. after he suffered a stroke caused by a blood clot in his brain. Welsh had a history of smoking and hypertension and cholesterol issues. The doctors believe that the blood clot came from somewhere in his neck or his brain stem. They tested Welsh for atherosclerotic heart disease; the test came back negative. When imaging tests were done, it showed that Welsh had a membrane open between the right and left sides of his heart.

Welsh was also tested for Factor V Leiden thrombophilia, which is a hereditary disorder that can increase the risk of blood clots in the veins.

Welsh was transferred from Edward Hospital to Central DuPage Hospital three days after the stroke for advanced testing to determine its cause. At Central DuPage, Welsh was seen by another neurologist, Dr. Henry Echiverri. It was there that Welsh underwent testing for the clotting disorder. He was discharged from Central DuPage Hospital four days later.

The Leiden test that was available a day after Welsh left Central DuPage Hospital showed that he inherited the defective gene from one parent, which can increase a person’s venous clotting risks to about 6-8 times more than people without the disorder.

The lawsuit centered on the fact that Dr. Dzamashvili did not make note of the coagulation abnormality in Welsh’s medical records during the follow-up visit that occurred in December 2009 and the doctor did not prescribe an anticoagulant medication such as Coumadin. Coumadin is a blood thinner that it was alleged would have treated Welsh’s condition by thinning his blood and thus reduce the chance of a blood clotting caused stroke.

Welsh suffered a second stroke in April 2009 after a blood clot passed through the opening in his heart and traveled to his brain.  The second stroke was devastating in that it left him  severely impaired. He can walk but exhibits significant right-sided weakness, he cannot understand speech or communicate and requires around-the-clock care. His care is given by his 84-year-old mother.

Originally the lawsuit was filed in 2010 against the neurologist and the respective medical groups alleging that they should have prescribed Welsh an anticoagulant that would have prevented the second stroke. The case was voluntarily dismissed and refiled and renumbered in 2014. The defendants denied the allegations and contended that Welsh’s clots were coming from his arteries and not his veins.

The case turned on causation. With the genetic disorder that Welsh carried, he had a venous clotting risk that was 80 times more likely than someone without the condition. Because there was no consensus that Welsh required a certain treatment for clotting and because the CT angiogram was searching for pulmonary embolisms and was negative, convincing a jury of negligence was more than difficult. There was no evidence that the second stroke came from a venous circulation site. In fact, at the close of the plaintiff’s case, the judge entered a directed verdict in favor for two of the neurologists who were sued as defendants. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the rest of the treating physicians and their respective medical groups.

Kathy Nakamura v. Konstantine S. Dzamashvili, M.D., No. 14 L 289 (Will County, Ill.).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence cases, stroke misdiagnosis cases, birth trauma injury cases and physician negligence 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 surrounding areas, including Naperville, Rosemont, Richton Park, Arlington Heights, Orland Park, Palos Heights, Palatine, Park Forest, Forest Park, Flossmoor, Schaumburg, Schiller Park, Antioch, Gurnee, Round Lake Beach, South Barrington, Chicago Heights, Blue Island and Alsip, Ill.

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