Illinois Surgical Malpractice Lawsuit Returns Verdict In Favor of Defendant Cardiologist – Estate of Olson v. Dr. Joseph Pensabene

An Illinois jury found in favor of the defendant doctor in the Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit of The Estate of Eileen Olson, deceased v. Dr. Joseph F. Pensabene, Rockford Cardiology Associates, Ltd., 06 L-73. The medical malpractice case revolved around allegations against the defendant cardiologist of committing surgical errors and negligence which led to the wrongful death of the 68 year-old woman.

In 2004, Ms. Olson was admitted to St. Anthony Hospital under the care of her cardiologist, Dr. Pensabene, for the removal of a blood clot that was blocking the circulation in her left arm. The decedent had pre-existing conditions of asthma, diabetes, and hypertension. Dr. Pensabene performed an angiogram, which is a type of x-ray that uses both dye and fluroscopy to record a patient’s blood flow through their arteries and veins.

When performing Ms. Olson’s angiogram, Dr. Pensabene used a SmartNeedle catheter with an ultrasonic tip. There was no problem with the catheter entering the decedent’s body via her femoral artery and passing through her groin. It was when the catheter entered the areas of the left brachial and radial arteries that Dr. Pensabene identified the large blood clot.

At that point in the procedure, Dr. Pensabene withdrew the catheter, and inserted an AngioJet to break up and suck out the blood clot. In addition, Dr. Pensabene also administered a large variety of anticogulants and anti-platelet medications, i.e. Heparin, tPA, Integrilin, Angiomax, and Lovenox, to help break up the blood clot.

Two hours after the procedure was successfully completed the decedent began to bleed internally and died. The cause of death listed on the decedent’s death certificate was a disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), which refers to blood clotting in multiple areas of the body. In essence, the decedent’s body was unable to clot and stop bleeding in areas of her body.

In its Illinois medical malpractice complaint, the Olson estate alleged that the doctor expressly made the decision to administer what it referred to as excessive doses of too many anticoagulants, anti-platelets, and thrombolytic medication. The estate further contended that the administration of these anti-clotting drugs contributed to her fatal bleeding.

In addition, the estate alleged that Dr. Pensabene was negligent by performing the endovascular approach himself rather than electing to call in a surgeon who could have performed an alternate procedure that would have removed the clot through a small incision using little to no anticoagulants. Likewise, the decedent’s estate opined that the defendant cardiologist should have consulted with a surgeon as soon as the bleeding was discovered so that he could have saved the decedent’s life with a quick and easy suture. In reality, a surgeon was not contacted until the next day, when it was already too late and the surgical malpractice had already occurred.

In response, the defendant doctor argued that the use of the multiple anti-bleeding medications was necessary and essential in order to paralyze the patient’s clotting mechanisms for the duration of the surgery. Furthermore, the defense contended that the decedent’s internal bleeding was all spontaneous and not due to any inadvertent perforation of the decedent’s arteries or veins by the defendant cardiologist. Rather, that the post-operative bleeding quickly escalated into a disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) in which the body used up and destroyed its own clotting factors and those added through transfusions.

At the Illinois medical malpractice trial, the decedent’s estate petitioned the jury for $800,000, which would be collected by the decedent’s adult son. However, after considering all of the evidence, the jury found in favor of the defendant cardiologist, not the decedent.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois surgical malpractice cases and Illinois wrongful death cases for more than 35 years in and around Chicago and Cook County, including Bridgeport, Melrose Park, Wheeling, Skokie, and Blue Island.

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