Articles Posted in Verdicts and Settlements

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A jury has awarded a family more than $1.1 million dollars in a medical negligence lawsuit. The family of the 84 year old woman was represented by Levin & Perconti. The lawsuit stems from medical malpractice stemming from a fall. The woman was taken to Rush North Shore Hospital after sustaining a broken ankle at her home. Surgery was done and she was subsequently sent to a nursing facility, Lincolnwood Place Nursing Home, for rehabilitative care. After the surgery she was under the care of her primary physician, Dr. John Fultz.

Doctor Failed to Provide Proper Care
Prior to the fall the woman was taking the blood thinner Coumadin as treatment for atrial fibrillation, a heart condition which put her at a higher risk of stroke. Her doctor took her off Coumadin for the time immediately following her surgery after a test indicated that she had enough in her system. Removing her from Coumadin was to allow her surgery to heal properly. However, the woman was supposed to be put back on Coumadin shortly after surgery to ensure that her heart condition was being cared for. Unfortunately, the doctor failed to place her back on Coumadin even after testing showed that it was now required. This negligent action caused the woman to be at an increased risk of embolic stroke.
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In November 2014 the personal injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti won a $3 million settlement in a medical malpractice case. This settlement will help make whole the family of a woman who died from respiratory failure resulting in cardiac arrest.

Woman Suffers from Double Vision and Parethesia

Back on January 15, 2010, a now-deceased woman went to an emergency room and complained that she was suffering from double vision, swollen eyes, weakness, and fatigue. The doctors ordered a CT scan which came back negative, so they sent her home and told her to follow up with her primary care doctor.

The double vision continued into the next day when the woman also began to suffer from parethesia, which is a tingling sensation, in both of her arms. She went to her primary care doctor who admitted her to Bromenn Medical Center. A neurologist who had been treating her for migraines became involved and diagnosed her with an opthalmologic migraine and Guillan-Barre. His plan was to prescribe the woman pain medications, insure her hydration, and monitor her further.
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The medical malpractice attorneys won a $1.25 million settlement for a client in a wrongful death case. The deceased in the case went to a hospital in July of 2009. During his stay in the hospital he ultimately died.

Sixty-Nine-Year-Old Man Dies Because of Missed Diagnosis

While the sixty-nine-year-old man was in the hospital he received an anticoagulation medication. Anticoagulation medications reduce the blood’s ability to coagulate, or change from a liquid to a semi-solid state. Then he received an MRI of his lumbar spine. That evening he suffered from multiple vasovagal episodes and low blood pressure. Vasovagal episodes involve a rapid drop in a patient’s heart rate which decreases the flow of blood to the brain and can cause fainting. The next morning the gentleman went into fatal cardiac arrest.His death was ultimately attributed to an undiagnosed retroperitoneal hemorrhage. A retroperitoneal hemorrhage is when blood accumulates in the retroperitoneal space. The retroperitoneal space is a space in the abdominal cavity. There are multiple things that can contribute to such a hemorrhage, but one of them is anticoagulation. Other causes include a ruptured aortic aneurysm, a ruptured renal aneurysm, acute pancreatitis, and malignancy.
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Chicago medical malpractice suits take many forms. While trends exist, attorneys who work on these matters always explain that no two cases are identical. That is because every patient has unique ailments, issues, and vulnerabilities, and caregivers act negligently in myriad of ways. Even cases that are rooted in the same general problem–misdiagnosis, surgical error, etc.–still may prove to involve very different legal issues and nuances.

In fact, some medical malpractice cases involve general lapses in care not directly related to specific medical decisions. When a medical patient enters a hospital, they are relying on caregivers to ensure everything about their stay is reasonable and free of negligence. That includes not falling on slippery floors, accidentally wandering into danger, or otherwise suffering injury because of caregiving mistakes.

Adverse Reaction Following Test

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Nearly 300 patients sought the services of Dr. Mark Weinberger, an Indiana otolaryngologist (an ear, nose and throat specialist), complaining of allergies, congestion, headaches, and snoring. Instead of treating their conditions, however, the self-proclaimed “Nose Doctor” treated the patients for non-existing conditions that ultimately resulted in the doctor performing unnecessary surgical procedures. The Nose Doctor prematurely diagnosed patients with some sort of mucus drainage blockage condition. A Medspace article provides Weinberger then recommended and performed an outdated and problematic procedure of drilling two holes in the patient’s maxillary sinuses to supposedly facilitate mucus drainage. A major risk associated with such a procedure involves recirculation of mucus, thereby worsening the sinus complications. Most of the patient’s conditions could have been cured with medication or nasal irrigation.

In their medical malpractice claim, the patients alleged that the surgeries performed by Dr. Weinberger were not only unnecessary and fake, but led to devastating permanent physical changes. In one particular case, the Nose Doctor wrongly diagnosed a patient with a sinus problem when in actuality the patient had throat cancer. The patient died due to the misdiagnosis, which initiated a wrongful death suit by the decedent’s family.

In fear of the pending lawsuits, the Nose Doctor fled while on vacation in Greece in 2004. He would not be seen again for five years. On top of the alleged medical malpractice claims, in 2006 the federal government charged Weinberger with healthcare fraud for filing fictitious procedures with insurance companies amounting in over $530,000.

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This week Reuters shared the news that a large pharmaceutical company, PharMerica, was hit by a lawsuit filed by the U.S. government. The suit claims that the company engaged in a series of illegal activities. The allegations suggest that patients lives were put in danger by PharMerica’s actions and significant funds were funneled fraudulently from Medicare as a result.

Whistleblower Comes Forward

The U.S. government lawsuit against PharMerica comes two years after the same allegations were made in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former employee of the company. The whistleblower, who worked as a pharmacy operations manager at one company facility, explained how the pharmacy dispensed medication without first getting valid prescriptions from doctors.

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This week marks the typical end of the yearly session for the United States Supreme Court. Per tradition, it is during this week that the Court officially releases their rulings in the most controversial cases that were heard over the last eight to ten months. Yesterday, the court did just that in a case related to liability for defects in generic drugs in Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. v. Bartlett. This is a case that we have discussed before as having important implications for many different Chicago residents and medical patients.

Unfortunately, though not wholly unexpected, the court’s opinion runs counter to the best interests of those harmed by dangerous drugs. The full online text version of the opinion can be found online here.

The Case

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Medical malpractice refers to all cases where there are claims of professional negligence caused by doctors, nurses, and other care providers. Sometimes these are traditional negligence claims filed by the patient themselves when they are injured as a result of medical errors. At other times, when the patient dies as a result of the mistake, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed. In each case medical malpractice is the heart of the matter, but some of the procedural steps are different depending on who is actually bringing the lawsuit–the patient or a family members following a death.

Wrongful Death Suit after Surgery Delay

AL.com recently reported on a jury verdict in one of those wrongful death cases following medical malpractice. It is an example of the serious consequences of delayed treatment–in this case a failure to order emergency surgery in time. According to the story, the original case was filed by a widow after her 56-year old husband died on Christmas Day in 2008.

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We often point out how securing a successful verdict is sometimes only part of the legal battle. That is because securing a judgement which shows that you are owed money is only the first step in actually receiving that recovery. In some cases, the process is relatively straightforward, and insurance companies or other parties ensure their obligations are handled. At other times, more extensive efforts much be undertaken to force those responsible to pay what is owed.

Another complexity involves using those funds–either a settlement or verdict–to repay third parties who also have a stake in the matter. Most notably, this usually includes government sources which provided support following the harm, usually in the form of medical care. Reimbursing Medicaid, for example, can often result in delay and headaches for those merely wanting to end the matter and get on with their lives. Fortunately, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid recently supported plans to change procedures in such a way that will hopefully eliminate delay in making reimbursement claims.

In addition, some state Medicaid programs often try to demand excessive reimbursements, adding even more controversy and delaying a final resolution even longer. For example, North Carolina came under significant scrutiny recently as a result of state laws which found an irrebuttable statutory presumption that Medicaid was entitled to one-third of any tort recovery for which funds were provided. Essentially, this means that the state could demand significant portions of any recovery for a plaintiff without clear explanation for why the state needed to be reimbursed that much. Because the presumption was irrebuttable, there was nothing that plaintiffs in the state could do to show how the one-third taking was excessive in their case.

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A well-known doctor who has worked with many professional athletes, sports teams, and national events has come under fire for allegations of severe mistakes which caused harm to those in his care. The Aspen Daily News recently provided background on the story and explained the allegations against the medical professional. The tale is a reminder that all medical settings come with a risk of substandard care–even when the doctor is apparently at the top of his field.

State Investigation

According to the report, the doctor involved is known has been the medical director for ESPN’s X Games nearly since its inception on top of being the head team physician of NFL football’s San Diego Chargers for many years.