Jury Verdict for Plaintiff Over Institutional Negligence Where Hospital Lacked Policy About Patient Notification of Revised Reports – Salinas v. Advocate

A Chicago man sustained a worse medical injury as a result of a radiologist’s error. And while the resulting medical malpractice case settled, the plaintiff brought an additional institutional negligence lawsuit against the hospital. The second lawsuit, Oscar Salinas v. Advocate Health and Hospital Corp., 09 L 3233, went to trial, where the jury entered an $150,000 verdict against the defendant.

Both lawsuits arose as a result of a visit the plaintiff, Oscar Salinas, made to Dr. Jose Ramillo, a radiologist at Advocate Christ Hospital. Salinas was a 40 year-old forklift operator and had injured his knee at work. After taking an x-ray of Salinas’s knee, Dr. Ramillo diagnosed Salinas’s injury as water on his knee, i.e. a fluid build up around the knee joint, and discharged him.

However, a few days later Dr. Ramillo reviewed Salinas’s x-rays at the request of another physician at Advocate Christ Hospital. Upon second review, Dr. Ramillo revised his original diagnosis and entered a revised report stating that Salinas had a hairline fracture. However, neither Salinas or his physical therapist were never informed of this change in diagnosis and subsequently did not modify his treatment; Salinas continued to apply weight-bearing pressure to his injured leg.

After Salinas completed his physical therapy treatment, he underwent an MRI to determine why he was still having knee pain. The MRI revealed that the previously hairline fracture had expanded to a 2 cm. fracture. So instead of being a minor, easily treatable injury, Salinas had to undergo an open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) surgery and additional physical therapy. As a result, he lost additional time from work, which amounted to $10,000 in lost wages.

Salinas originally filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against both Dr. Ramillo and Advocate Christ Hospital. Dr. Ramillo settled with Salinas for $45,000 for his radiology negligence. And while Salinas dismissed Advocate Christ Hospital from the medical malpractice lawsuit, the next year he brought an institutional negligence lawsuit against Advocate Christ Hospital.

While the first lawsuit focused on the doctor’s radiology negligence, the second lawsuit dealt with allegations that the hospital should have had policies and procedures in place to prevent such radiology errors from occurring. Specifically, Salinas was critical of Advocate Christ Hospital’s lack of procedure mandating that patients and their treating physicians are alerted regarding amended radiology reports.

Salinas’s theory of liability was that if the hospital had informed either Salinas or his physical therapist about his hairline fracture, that it would have changed his treatment plan. Specifically, Salinas would have refrained from weight-bearing activity, which the plaintiff’s experts argued would have prevented his hairline fracture from worsening and eliminated the need for his subsequent surgery.

The jury seemed to agree with the plaintiff’s evidence and found in favor of Salinas. As a result, Advocate Christ Hospital will have to pay $150,000 in damages based on its lack of a specific policy and procedure. Presumably, the hospital has since amended their policies and procedures to shield itself from liability in future radiology error lawsuits.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits for individuals and families for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including New Lenox, Des Plaines, Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, Long Grove, and Matteson.

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