Articles Posted in Failure to Diagnose

Published on:

The Illinois Supreme Court in a 4-2 decision struck down limits on damages awards in medical malpractice cases with its decision in Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital on thursday. The court held that the legislation was unconstitutional. The majority opinion, authored by Justice Fitzgeral held, in part: “[W]e necessarily consider…the legislature’s goal in enacting the statue-responding to a health-care crisis. Our separation of powers analysis, however, does not stop there. The crux of our analysis is whether the statue unduly infringes upon the inherent power of the judiciary. Here, the legislature’s attempt to limit…damages in medical malpractice actions runs afoul of the separation of powers clause.”

This is a major victory for patients and consumers in Illinois. The legislature has tried, on three seperate occasions, to enact caps on damages in medical malpractice cases. For years lobbiests for the insurance industry have argued that medical malpractice awards have contributed to the high cost of health care in Illinois despite the fact that insurace payouts on these claims have remained level for the past two decades.

All citizens of Illinois should have a right to ask a jury of their peers for redress when they have been victimized by negligence, regardless of the profession of the guilty party. To see a copy of the Supreme Courts landmark opinion look here.

Published on:

Radiation therapy in cancer treatment uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and helps prevwent them from spreading throughout the body. The use of radiation therapy is one of the primary means that physicians have to help treat patients who have been diagnosed with cancer and is prescribed in 60% of all cancer treatment scenarios. Radiation is typically prescribed and administered through the use of an external beam which is provided by a machine called a linear accelerator. The beam is localized and given in precise measures of energy, or doses, to specific areas on the human body for treatment.

Over radiation occurs when some element of error occurs during the treatment process and the patient gets more then the prescribed dose of radiation over a period of time. While the linear accelerator is a very precise provider of radiation, there is a human component involved in doing the math and physics required to set up the machine to provide accurate treatment dosage. The system sometimes fails when these human failsafes are ignored and the patient receives the wrong amount of radiation.

The results for over radiated patients are devastating. The extra radiation, even in seemingly small doses, weakens and kills healthy tissue causing skin and organ damage, and often death. At Goldberg & Goldberg we have handled over radiation cases which have resulted in record recoveries for our clients including a verdict of $16 million and a settlement of $7.5 million.

Published on:

Barry D. Goldberg and Peter A. Nicholson of the Chicago law firm of Goldberg & Goldberg have settled a wrongful death case on behalf of the Estate of Patricia Quirk for $7.5 million. Quirk v. Little Company of Mary, et al., 05 L 00379. The case was assigned for trial to the Hon. Thomas Hogan in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Little Company of Mary is represented by Marilee Clausing and Susan Hannigan of Anderson, Rasor & Partners, Radiation Oncology, S.C. is represented by David Burkter of Cunningham, Meyer & Vedrine and the radiation oncologist is represented by Mary Cunningham of Kominiarek, Bresler, Harvick and Gundmundson, all of Chicago.

Beginning on March 26, 2003, Patricia Quirk received an overdose of radiation to her pelvis as she underwent radiation therapy for a stage 3 endometrial cancer. She received 50% more than the prescribed dose of radiation on 17 separate occasions during her radiation therapy. This radiation overdose ultimately perforated her bowel, causing her to become septic and leading to her death on May 8, 2004 at the age of 60. Mrs. Quirk is survived by her husband Thomas Quirk and two adult children. Mrs. Quirk was a life long resident of Chicago who resided in the West Lawn neighborhood. She was a social worker who was considered an expert in the field of community relations and the concurrent politics of mental health care. She was previously honored by four Chicago Mayors, the City Council and the Illinois General Assembly for her work with the mentally disabled citizens of Illinois.

Goldberg & Goldberg is a premier Chicago, Illinois law firm that concentrates its practice in the representation of plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits. In addition to this settlement Goldberg & Goldberg has secured other significant results in over radiation cases, including a $16 million jury verdict in 2005. Barry D. Goldberg, one of the firms senior partners, also has the largest personal injury verdict in the history of the state, a record setting $127 million result. Goldberg said, “we are pleased to be able to deliver some measure of justice to the Quirks who have suffered such a terrible loss of this wonderful person.”

Published on:

Hollywood actor James Woods setttled a medical malpractice case brought on behalf of his brother who died while he was a patient in the Emergency Room of Kent Hospital in Kent County, Rhode. The Providence Journal Online Edition is reporting that while the financial terms of the settlement are confidential, the hospital took the unusual step of apologizing to the Woods family for their mistake.

james woods.jpgWoods said the impetus for the settlement came with a phone call from hospital president Sandra Coletta. In that call, he said he heard something he’d never heard from Kent Hospital before, someone saying she was sorry for his family’s loss.

It has been widely reported that apologizing for medical mistakes is the number one way a doctor or hospital can help curtail a medical malpractice claim. Often times patients and their families are looking for closure after the loss of a loved one. An apology is often the piece of the grief puzzle that helps wounds heal and allows people to move on after a tragedy.

Published on:

Conventional wisdom says don’t get sick over the holidays. Hospitals are understaffed, doctors are distracted and the overall quality of medical care is diminished at even the finest of institutions. Over and over again we see cases at otherwise fine Chicago area hospitals that have one thing in common. The negligence occurs over the Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s holidays. Unfortunately, we can’t choose when we get sick and people certaintly need medical help over the holidays, so keep the following in mind:

Become an advocate for yourself. Hospitals run on skeleton shift over any major holiday. Do not simply assume that Doctors and Nurses are thinking about you and your condition, they are not. they are thinking about the holidays like everyone else. Remind them of critical information and ask questions. If you are not satisfied with a response make sure they explain it to you again in plain english until you understand.

Go up the Chain of Command. if you are unhappy with the care you are receiving or if you are felling neglected, ask to speak with a supervisor, the head of the department or the vice-president of nursing. Doctors are accountable to the chairman of their service as well. Demand someone pay you the proper amount of attention.

Published on:

Joanne Doroshow wrote an excellent article in the Monday, November 9, 2009 edition of The Huffington Post called Medical Malpractice Tort Reform – We Are Already Suffering And Don’t Need More. She points out that unless you are currently living under a rock you have heard the term “tort reform” but, sadly, probably don’t know what it really means.

In Illinois we have tort reform as it relates to medical malpractice. Starting in 1985, and every ten years thereafter, the state legislature has based some sort of restriction on the publics right to sue for personal injury. In the late 1990s the Illinois Supreme Court struck down these restrictions, overruling the legislature, and finding them to be unconstitutional. The legislature, bowing to pressure from the insurance industry, tried again in 2005 and passed limits on jury awards as they relate to doctors and hospitals only. That legislation is currently being reviewed for constitutionality by the Supreme Court and we expect a ruling on the issue in the near future.

The term tort reform implies that its results would be beneficial to everyone. Sadly, this is not the case. Tort reform in Illinois will only make it harder for average hard working men and women to seek redress for the harms caused to them as victims of negligence. The tort reform movement was started by and is funded by insurance companies. The same companies that have the most to gain financially by limiting jury awards.

Published on:

The National Law Journal is reporting that the actor Dennis Quaid and his wife have filed a lawsuit in Cook County, Illinois against Deerfield based Baxter Healthcare Corp. concerning a drug overdose his children suffered at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California. The actor and his wife claim that the overdose occured, in part, due to confusing drug-labeling by the manufacturer of the drug Heparin.

Quaid.jpgThe lawsuit was filed in Chicago and dismissed by the trial court on jurisdictional grounds. The drugmaker claimed, and the trial and appellate courts have agreed, that the case would be more appropriately filed in California. The Quaids have petitioned the Illinois Supreme Court to hear the case.

The Quaid children were given 1000 times the recommended dosage of the drug Heparin while being treated at Los Angeles’s Cedars-Sinai Hospital. While there have been no adverse effect from the overdoes as of yet, the Quaids are concerned about the effect of the overdose on the twins health and well-being in the future.

Published on:

In Illinois there is a stautue of limitations on medical malpractice claims which generally prohibits filing of a lawsuit two years from the date of malpractice or two years after the malpractice is discoverd. The statute of repose sets an outside tail date for filing such claims after four years have elapsed from the time of the initial malpractice. There are certain exceptions to this general statute of limitiations. At Goldberg & Goldberg we are proud of our work to help protect the rights of brain injured children. As an example of such work we are proud to say that due to our tireless efforts to fight for and protect brain injured children, including those suffering from cerebral palsy, the Illinois Supreme Court extended the statute of limitations for minors suffering from a brain injury indefinitely.

In Bruso v. Alexian Brothers Hospital, 178 Ill. 2d 445, 453 (1997), the Illinois Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Michael Bilandic held, that a minor who is under another legal disability, such as a brain injury, shall have the statute of limitations tolled on his claim until said legal disability is lifted. As a result, brain injured persons are protected from the statute of limitations until such a time as their disability no longer exists. This is a significant victory for consumers in Chicago, and throughout Illinois.

Published on:

Medical Malpractice attorneys won a $14 million jury verdict on behalf of a father and optometrist left bed-ridden and paralyzed resulting from a botched, unnecessary procedure in 2002. According to the lawsuit, Francis Ziadie was suffering from dizziness and slurred speech when he arrived at the emergency room. The next morning, Ziadie complained of short-term slurred speech and numbness in his hand. A CAT scan and magnetic resonance angiography showed no evidence of a stroke. Doctors diagnosed transient ischemic attacks which, according to the standard of care, are treated with aspirin and Plavix. Usually these syptoms resolve themselves within 3-6 months.

Instead, doctors inserted a stent into the patients Carotid Artery. Because the patient was on blood thinning medications at the time, blood leaked from the puncture site and pooled around his brain causing massive pressure damage.

The jury returned their verdict in less then six hours, finding that the plaintiff, now age 53, will require around the clock attendant care for the rest of his life.

Published on:

A Los Angeles jury has awarded a California family $7.3 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit concerning a hospital’s failure to diagnose and treat a child suffering from meningitis. The jury unanimously awarded the five year old damages for her injury which has left her brain damaged, The defendant in the case was the neonatal intensive care unit at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center. The case is eerily reminscent of cases that Goldberg & Goldberg has litigated in the Chicago area, including The Circuit Court of Cook County.

cedars.jpg

Meningitis is an inflamation, or infection, of the meninges which is a sheath-like protective covering over the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is dangerous because of the close proximity of the meninges to the brain and spinal cord and the risk of devastating brain injury and paralysis. Children don’t often present with classic signs of meningitis, like a stiff neck. Meningitis is diagnosed by sampling the cerebrospinal fluid which can yield proof of an infection of the meninges shortly after samples are obtained.

The typical treatment for meningitis is a prompt regiment of antibiotic and antiviral medication. Left untreated, meningitis can lead to deafness, hydrocephalus, epilipsy and cognitive brain damage.