Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

medical malpractice lawsuit

Hospitalized Man’s Life Support Decision Made by the Wrong Family  

On May 13, 2019, a social worker from Mercy Hospital was busy making calls and seeking relatives of a patient identified by Chicago police as Alfonso Bennet. The man had been hospitalized in the ICU after being severely beaten. He required a ventilator to breathe and was nearly unrecognizable to his supposed sisters, who soon came to visit and make critical medical decisions on his behalf, such as removing him from life support.

Soon after family members permitted doctors to perform a tracheotomy, the man did pass away, and his alleged sisters made funeral arrangements. It was then that the real Alfonso Bennet was found still alive and the now deceased man identified by police became a mystery.

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Blood Pressure Disorders in Pregnant and Postpartum Women Should Be Detected and Treated  

Emerging data by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention Maternal Mortality Study Group continues to prove that too many mothers are dying or suffering from preventative or treatable pregnancy complications. Specifically, disorders related to hypertension (high blood pressure) in pregnancy and postpartum timeframes remain common and a leading cause of maternal mortality and infant morbidity worldwide.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has identified four major types of hypertensive pregnancy disorders, which can range from less to more severe, and typically occur after 20 weeks gestation.

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Electronic Health Record Issues Serve Important Purpose in Malpractice Cases

An American Journal of Emergency Medicine study found an emergency room doctor will make approximately 4,000 computer clicks related to electronic health or medical records (EHR) over the course of one single shift. Although the evolution of a medical record turned electronic has been positioned to save money, eliminate mistakes in medicine and bring higher-quality and transparent care to patients, the painful truth and untruths of EHRs and related technologies continue to be known as physicians express angst and sometimes fear of using the systems.

Today, 96 percent of hospitals have adopted the patient and medical care tracking technology so there is no doubt room for user error sits ever-so present for billions of Americans, putting them at risk for death and serious injury. Software glitches and other flaws can also go unseen and contribute to disastrous patient safety and privacy issues.

“To know that this happens is our country, that’s unacceptable.” 

-Sue Sheridan, patient safety advocate, in To Err Is Human

The medical malpractice attorneys of Levin & Perconti recently watched To Err Is Human, a newly released documentary showing the frequency and impact of medical errors upon American families. To see the facts relating to the frequency and severity of medical errors combined with the heart wrenching story of a family forever changed by these mistakes has left a lasting impression on all of us.

The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit group dedicated to hospital safety, has released their biannual Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade report, showing an overall improvement in Illinois hospitals since the spring. According to Leapfrog, the survey measures hospital patient safety by the number of “errors, injuries, accidents, and infections.” Participation by hospitals is optional and this fall, 110 Illinois hospitals agreed to take part. According to the data collected, Leapfrog rated Illinois hospitals as #13 overall, an improvement from #15 this past spring.

In a time where the increasing problem of medical errors is finally being given the platform it deserves, the survey is more relevant now than ever. The Leapfrog Group, citing an often quoted 2016 Johns Hopkins study, notes that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. Patient safety and healthcare provider accountability is essential for all hospitals and healthcare organizations. Below is our analysis of the Fall 2018 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade report for participating Illinois hospitals.


Illinois & Metro Chicago Hospital Results

The Center for Justice and Democracy (CJ&D), a consumer rights group out of New York Law School, has shared their list of 22 famous figures who have been harmed and even killed by medical malpractice.

Most of us are familiar with the high profile drug-related tragedies of Michael Jackson (2009) and Prince (2016) and even Judy Garland (1969) and Marilyn Monroe (1962). Some of us are familiar with the details surrounding the death of comedian Joan Rivers in 2014 during an endoscopy at a New York City clinic.  But it was surprising even to us to read the details of medical neglect in cases involving other beloved celebrities. As CJ&D pointed out in their report, no one is exempt from medical negligence or malpractice, not even celebrities with all the money and resources in the world at their fingertips. The report also shared several findings that now have become well known to the public. Among them, that medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in this country.

Each of the 22 cases highlighted in the report has resulted in a settlement or verdict (or is pending) and in many of them, grieving loved ones or the victims themselves have said that it’s not about money, but instead about enforcing a sense of right vs. wrong in the face of injustice.

A recent study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings reveals that 54% of American physicians report feeling burnt out at work. Lead study author, Stanford pediatric physician Daniel S. Tawfik, and his team found that those experiencing burnout were TWO times as likely to have made a major medical error in the last 3 months. Study authors also believe that based on this information, 1/3 of all American physicians are experiencing burnout at any given time.  Researchers describe burnout as “emotional exhaustion or cynicism.”

The study questioned 6,586 physicians in active practice at an American hospital or clinic and asked them to report feelings of burnout, excessive fatigue, recent suicidal thoughts, their thoughts on patient safety on the unit in which they primarily work, as well as those who had made a major medical error. The authors found:

  • 54.3%  of physicians admitted feeling burnt out

The family of a 70 year old wife and mother was recently awarded $10 million after a Columbia, South Carolina jury found the urologist who failed to treat her liable for her death.

Life-Saving Information Not Shared with Patient

The woman, Joann Bannister, was being monitored by her primary care physician, Dr. Jerry Robinson, for a growth on her left kidney. After a 2011 visit with Dr. Phillip Kinder, a urologist with Columbia Urological Associates, she was told by her primary care doctor that the growth would potentially lead to removal of her kidney, but he put off immediate treatment and requested that she schedule another appointment in 6 months. 4 months later, Mrs. Bannister was back in Dr. Robinson’s office, this time complaining of lower back pain. Dr. Robinson sent her for a CT scan that revealed the kidney growth had gotten larger. The radiologist who reviewed the CT scan advised removal of the growth to test it for cancer, but for unknown reasons, Dr. Kinder, her urologist, never communicated this information to her.

“‘With our technology, every single time a woman dies [in childbirth], it’s a medical error.'”

In May of this year, ProPublica joined forces with NPR to tell the story of Lauren Bloomstein, a NICU nurse at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, New Jersey.  After years of taking care of thousands of new babies, Lauren and her husband, orthopedic trauma surgeon Dr. Larry Bloomstein, were finally about to bring their own child into the world. 20 hours after delivering their daughter, Hailey, Lauren Bloomstein was gone. Her cause of death was complications due to HELLP syndrome, a rare pregnancy-related condition considered to be a severe variant of Preeclampsia. In the hospital where she had tirelessly worked to save others, physicians and nursing staff ultimately failed her. A first-time mother who had lost her own mom as a child was dead at just 33 years old.

HELLP Syndrome & Preeclampsia: What Are They?

As reported in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, our attorneys at Levin & Perconti have successfully negotiated a $2 million settlement for the family of a thirty-three year-old woman who died in 2010 at Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center in Chicago. This is just one of many successful cases handled by the firm for families who have lost loved ones.
In this case, Lisa Rivera was an insulin-dependent diabetic. She went to the hospital because she was experiencing shortness of breath. She was diagnosed with having fluid around her lungs, and the hospital did a procedure to treat that problem. After the procedure, Ms. Rivera suffered persistent pain, for which the hospital medicated her. Her doctor also ordered that she be given a long-acting form of insulin. She had a reaction to the medication and stopped breathing. The hospital revived her but she wound up in intensive care.

The lawsuit was in part over nursing staff’s failure to document a diet change order for Rivera when she was not eating food by mouth. Failing to document the change in diet meant she received too much insulin. Her blood-sugar levels dropped as a result, and she went into a diabetic coma. She did not survive. The suit also alleged that a doctor’s failure to review Ms. Rivera’s chart and catch the problem contributed to her death. The hospital’s defense was that Ms. Rivera was receiving regular dialysis due to kidney failure and that her life expectancy was short anyway. Regarding what happened in this case, John J. Perconti, one of Ms. Rivera’s family’s lawyers, said, “There was a total lack of communication between the nurses and [the doctor], which led to this hypoglycemic episode.”
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