NOT GUILTY – FAILURE TO PREVENT SECOND STROKE WHILE HOSPITALIZED

Circuit Court of Cook County Illinois
Counsel: Patricia J. Barker and Jennifer M. Suttle
Demand: $3,000,000
Asked: $12.2 million
Outcome: Not Guilty

On December 3, 2013, Plaintiff, age 76, presented to the emergency room after suffering a “wake-up” stroke. She was admitted to the hospital but was not administered tPA because of the unknown timing of the stroke’s onset. Doctors decided not to administer anticoagulants or antiplatelets due to the presence of petechial hemorrhages within the large right-sided stroke as seen on CT scans. Plaintiff contended defendants were negligent for failing to prescribe antiplatelets on December 6th and thereafter causing plaintiff to sustain a second stroke on December 18, 2013 which led to more severe neurological deficits, including left-sided paralysis, vision impairment and incontinence requiring full-time care and rehabilitation. The defense argued that CT scans on December 5 and December 7th showed ongoing significant brain edema and hemorrhage so the administration of aspirin would have been way too risky if plaintiff ended up requiring neurosurgery due to the brain edema. Moreover, aspirin would not have prevented a second stroke because plaintiff was taking aspirin before the first stroke and plaintiff was contributorily negligent for failing to take statins as prescribed prior to her first stroke. The defense further asserted that most of plaintiff’s ongoing injuries predated the second stroke due to her first stroke and her history of Parkison’s disease since 2006 which would have ultimately required full-time care in the future regardless of the second stroke.

Not Guilty For Alleged Failure to Diagnose and Treat HIV

Circuit Court of Cook County Illinois
Counsel: Scott Irvin and David Kalimuthu
Demand: $3.5 million
Asked: $5.3 million
Outcome: Not Guilty as to our Defendant Hematologist/Oncologist

Plaintiff was admitted to the hospital on May 8, 2011, for various symptoms, including fever, repeated falls, foot drop, episodic dysphasia, and pancytopenia. She was diagnosed by a rheumatologist with antiphospholipid antibody syndrome and possible systemic lupus erythematosus after immunologic blood panels. Our defendant hematologist/oncologist was consulted to determine the cause of Plaintiff’s pancytopenia, ruled out several diagnoses, and prescribed immunosuppressive medication consistent with the diagnosis of lupus. On November 10, 2012, Plaintiff was diagnosed with HIV. Plaintiff alleged that the defendants were negligent in failing to consider, test for, diagnose and treat her HIV and that the delay in diagnosis and treatment caused her to develop HIV encephalopathy, permanent incontinence, gait imbalance, loss of executive function, slurred speech, recurrent fevers, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and necrotizing MRSA pneumonia. The defense contended that Plaintiff had both lupus and HIV in May of 2011 but that there was no reason to suspect or test for HIV at that time as Plaintiff was responding to lupus treatment, had no risk factors for HIV, and never presented with opportunistic infections. The defense further argued that Plaintiff was seen by over 100 physicians, including infectious disease specialists, and not one suspected HIV or ordered HIV testing. The defense also contended that Plaintiff contracted MRSA pneumonia due to living in a nursing home and that her cognitive deficits were pre-existing and unrelated to HIV encephalopathy.

News and Verdicts

Circuit Court of Cook County Illinois
Counsel: Anne Scrivner Kuban and Krista Frick
Demand $6.5 Million
Asked: $16.5 million
Outcome: Not Guilty

The decedent presented to the hospital on January 4, 2014 at 1:30AM with complaints of flu-like symptoms, chest pain and shortness of breath. He was evaluated and assessed by the emergency room physician, a named defendant who diagnosed him with community acquired pneumonia. The emergency room physician ordered the administration of IV fluids and antibiotics and contacted the decedent’s primary care physician who accepted the decedent to her service. The emergency room physician’s shift was over so he left at 7:15AM. The decedent remained in the emergency room waiting for a telemetry bed. The decedent began to experience breathing difficulties so the nursing staff notified the decedent’s primary care physician who ordered a BiPap ventilation machine which the decedent and Plaintiff (the decedent’s wife) refused and also refused intubation. At 5:00PM while the decedent was still in the emergency room his admission was changed from Telemetry to the Transitional Care Unit (TCU) and he was transferred at 5:30PM. Once in the TCU, a rapid response was called and the urgent hospitalist, a named defendant responded and again, the decedent and Plaintiff refused BiPap and intubation. The urgent hospitalist administered a small dose of Lasix to address the decedent’s tachycardia and tachypnea. After the decedent’s blood pressure dropped, fluids were administered and the decedent’s blood pressure recovered. The decedent eventually consented to undergo intubation and a central line was placed. The spectrum of antibiotics were broadened and a pulmonologist, a named defendant determined that a bronchoscopy was not needed. The decedent subsequently coded three separate times and died at 5:38AM on January 5, 2014. The cause of death was determined to be MRSA pneumonia.

Plaintiff alleged that the defendants failed to recognize and timely treat sepsis thereby resulting in the decedent’s death. The defense asserted that the decedent’s death was inevitable regardless of treatment and antibiotics due to the virulent toxins of the MRSA infection.

Fibromyalgia due to alleged PCA (Dilaudid) Overdose

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Patricia J. Barker and Elizabeth E. Jaci
Demand: $250,000
Asked: None
Outcome: A mistrial was declared after seven days of trial due to the loss of a juror and plaintiff’s unwillingness to stipulate to a verdict from less than 12 jurors.

Plaintiff claimed fibromyalgia resulting from an episode of respiratory depression secondary to Dilaudid PCA overdose, post bladder sling surgery. Plaintiff’s friend was pushing the PCA pump every ten minutes so that her friend would not wake up in pain. It was alleged that the nurses instructed the friend to push the pump.

Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the case with prejudice three months later.

Wrongful Death – failure to diagnose subarachnoid hemorrhage

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Patricia J. Barker and Elizabeth E. Jaci
Demand: $2 Million
Asked: None
Outcome: Summary judgment initially granted to Defendant hospital during motions in limine; trial judge reversed himself five months later. Case settled for hospital for $425,000.

Death of 44 year old man due to alleged failure to diagnose acute subarachnoid hemorrhage during emergency room visit.

Not guilty in failure to diagnose pneumonia.

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Pat Barker and Tim Dobry
Demand: None
Asked: $3 Million
Outcome: Not Guilty

Plaintiffs’ decedent, a chronic smoker for fifty years, presented to Defendant medical clinic complaining of shortness of breath and coughing. The patient had a history of chronic bronchitis, emphysema, COPD and had part of her lung removed. She was seen by Defendant physician who worked up the patient for approximately three hours, ultimately discharging her on antibiotics for a suspicion of pneumonia with orders to return the next morning for observation. She was instructed to go to the emergency room if her condition worsened during the night. The patient was brought home by her daughter that night, and after making her dinner, left her mother watching TV and went to bed. Plainttiff’s decedent passed away in the early morning hours of January 29, 2000.

There was also a negligent credentialing claim brought by Plaintiffs, claiming that the Defendant medical clinic improperly credentialed the Defendant physician; a physician of good standing of nearly thirty years.

Plaintiffs asked for 3 million at trial, but the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

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