Articles Posted in Emergency Room Errors

A jury returned a Chicago medical malpractice verdict for the family of a 45 year-old diabetic woman who died after suffering a cardiopulmonary arrest while in the emergency department of Little Company of Mary Hospital. The woman is survived by two children and a husband.

The decedent’s estate alleged that the Chicago emergency room nurses failed to appropriately triage the patient as “urgent” and to properly monitor her deteriorating physical condition, which it alleged was medical negligence on the part of the Chicago hospital. According to reports, the defendant’s argued at the trial that warning alarms on devices monitoring the patient’s vital signs did not activate to indicate that her condition was worsening toward cardiac and respiratory arrest. However, the jury obviously did not buy into this defense and found that the Chicago emergency room errors had resulted in the decedent’s death.

The woman had severe hyperglycemia when she arrived at the Chicago hospital. Hyperglycemia is a condition in which an excessive amount of glucose/sugar circulates in the blood and is something that the Chicago emergency room staff should evaluate for, especially in those already diagnosed with diabetes. Signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia include high blood glucose levels, high levels of sugar in the urine, frequent urination, and increased thirst. If left untreated hyperglycemia can worsen quickly and develop into a diabetic coma.

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The Illinois First District Appellate Court affirmed a Chicago jury verdict, thereby reaffirming its interpretation of apparent authority. The Cook County lawsuit involved a woman who was treated by an emergency room doctor who was not employed by the hospital, but was instead employed by Emergency Specialists of Illinois, P.C. Yet both the trial and appellate courts felt that there was sufficient evidence in the medical malpractice lawsuit to prove that the plaintiff had believed the ER physician was employed by the hospital and therefore that the hospital was also liable for the Illinois emergency room errors. Spiegelman v. Victory Memorial Hospital, No. 1-07-3915.

The plaintiff presented to the Victory Memorial Hospital ER complaining of headaches, pain in her left ear, congestion, a sense of dizziness when turning her head, nausea, and occasional double vision. Upon her arrival she informed the ER nurse that she had a medical history of sinusitis, was allergic to penicillin, and had previously been smoking about 2 ½ packs of cigarettes a day.

The plaintiff was examined by a doctor and diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, sinusitis, and an eardrum infection. An x-ray of her sinuses was ordered and she was discharged with instructions to follow up with her primary physician the following day. However, before the patient even left the hospital she became unable to walk straight and had to lean against a wall to support herself.

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A $2.1 Million settlement was reached against the hospital and doctors in an Illinois medical negligence lawsuit involving the wrongful death of a woman from brain herniation after being discharged from a hospital. She was discharged with complaints of headaches despite a diagnosis of a brain tumor.

Mary, a 50 year-old female, was diagnosed at South Suburban Hospital with a right frontal lobe meningioma in early September, 2003, at which time she was discharged from the hospital with a referral to a University of Chicago neurosurgeon. However, before seeing the neurosurgeon she presented back to South Suburban Hospital two days later complaining of headaches and vomiting.

She is given some pain medication and sent home. Early the next morning she is found unresponsive by her husband. She was taken by ambulance back to South Suburban, but died later that day. An autopsy revealed that the cause of the Illinois woman’s wrongful death was excessive fluid building up around her tumor causing her brain to shift to the left and down through the brain stem, putting extreme pressure on her brain, resulting in brain herniation.

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