Illinois Jury Verdict for Doctors in Bowel Perforation, Sepsis, Death Case

In November 2006, the defendant surgeon, Dr. Hodgett, performed a laparoscopic biopsy on a 72-year-old woman, Mary Backes.  The purpose was to diagnose a suspected lymphoma in her retroperitoneal area, which is behind the abdomen. The biopsy was done at Provena Nursing Medical Center in Aurora, Ill. 

Another defendant, Dr. Sayeed, was the patient’s primary care physician. Following the biopsy, Backes experienced blood pressure drops, low urine output and rapid respiration. 

Her family maintained in the lawsuit that Dr. Hodges and Dr. Sayeed chose not to recognize that Backes’s duodenum had been perforated during the biopsy procedure and failed to realize that her post-op symptoms were indicative of developing sepsis. It was also claimed that the doctors chose not to timely return Backes to surgery for exploration and repair of the perforation to attempt to save her life.

As a result, she suffered from sepsis and multi-system organ failure, leading to her death. She was, however, returned to the operating room around 6 a.m., about 3 hours after it was alleged that the perforation took place. She died a short time later. She was survived by her husband and an adult son. Backes also had five adult stepchildren who had never been adopted and were not allowed to testify as to their loss of society by the court’s order.             

The defendants maintained that while the patient’s vital signs were consistent with sepsis at times, they were not diagnostic of that condition. Dr. Sayeed examined Backes at 8:30 p.m. with normal post-op findings, and an abdominal CT scan around 9 p.m. was interpreted as normal. The doctor’s actions, including multiple telephone orders throughout the night, complied with the standard of care. The perforation of the duodenum was a delayed perforation, which did not occur until around 2:45 a.m. when the patient’s condition had dramatically changed. 

The biopsy was positive for large Stage IV(b) cell lymphoma. A transesophageal echocardiogram performed at the time of the exploratory surgery showed an ejection rate of 20 percent. According to an oncology expert for defendants who testified at trial, Backes’s ejection fraction rate precluded treatment leaving her with only a 3-month life expectancy.

The jury’s verdict for defendants came with no offer having been made before trial. The attorney for the family for Mary Backes asked the jury to return a verdict of $2,612,961. 

The Estate of Mary Backes v. Dr. Sifatur Sayeed and Dr. David Hodgett, No. 08 L 648 (Kane County).

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, nursing and hospital professionals for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including New Lenox, Chicago (Pulaski Park), Chicago (Uptown), Schiller Park, Park Ridge, Forest Park, Chicago (Marquette Park), Chicago (Gresham), Lemont and Oak Forest, Ill.

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