Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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Other than car accidents and “slip and fall” accidents, medical malpractice is perhaps the most common situation where a brain injury results in a civil lawsuit. The Chicago brain injury attorneys at our firm work with many residents who have themselves suffered one of these injuries because of medical negligence or have a family members who fell victim. Each case is tragic, and they are all reminders of the importance of improving patient safety efforts.

End of Brain Injury Lawsuit

For example, Penn Live reported this week on the end of a medical malpractice trial involving a young child who suffered a brain injury following surgery. The plaintiff in the case was only eleven months old when he was tested for a sleep condition known as sleep apnea The condition is somewhat common, affecting individuals of all ages. Sleep apnea essentially involves stoppages in breathing while one is asleep. The boy in this case, for example, was tested and apparently had 50 “episodes” in a single night where his blood oxygen level dropped.

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Timing is crucial in the law. Each brain injury attorney at our firm has counseled local residents on the important of filing lawsuits before applicable time deadlines. Each location has different rules, so it is important to understand how statutes of limitations work in your state and your specific suit.

Illinois Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

Much legal wrangling often takes place around these timing issues. That is because there are general requirements with many exceptions. In Illinois, the law generally requires a suit for medical malpractice to be filed within two years. However, the “clock” does not begin until “the claimant knew or reasonably should have known of the injury.” Yet, even accounting for this “discovery” rule, there is often an absolute bar of four years from the error, regardless of when the claimant discovered the problem.

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When most think about lawsuits and brain injuries, it is traumatic brain injuries that come to mind. These are injuries caused by blunt trauma to the head usually from automobile accidents or falls. They spur lawsuits when the underlying car accident or fall was caused by the negligence of another. Of course car accidents are usually the result of mistakes made when behind the wheels and falls can arise when one doesn’t reasonably keep a location clear of potential fall hazards. Our Illinois traumatic brain injury lawyers work with many individuals who have been hurt in this way.

Yet, brain injury lawsuits can also be sparked in different contexts, including cases of medical malpractice. For example, MLive reported this week on the end of a wrongful trial trial where a family alleged that their mother was killed after suffering a brain injury as a result of mistakes made during what was supposed to be a routine surgery. The victim in this situation was a 66-year old woman who went in to have neck surgery to remove her thyroid and parathyroid glands. Her family was told that the operation did not have any particularly high risks.

Everything seemed to be progressing well at first. The woman was put under anesthesia, the surgery was performed, and she left the operating room with doctors assuming that everything would be fine once she awoke from the anesthesia. Unfortunately, she never did wake up. No matter what doctors did they could not revive her, and she eventually had to be put on life support. About ten days after the surgery her family was forced to make the decision to remove the medical equipment.

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Brain injury lawsuits take many forms. In most traumatic brain injury situations-such as those caused in falls or car accidents-lawsuits name other car drivers or property owners as defendants. The defendant is the one who acted unreasonably in any given situation. In other brain injury cases, perhaps less often, medical professionals, hospitals, and clinics are named as defendants. These are types of medical malpractice cases where the plaintiff is arguing that their brain injury was caused (or made worse) by inadequate care being provided by those who were charged with helping them to recover.

This week, for example, Mercury News reported on the end of a medical malpractice trial involving a woman who suffered a severe brain injury as a result of a series of misguided decisions by her medical caregivers. The plaintiff in this case first visited a medical foundation complaining of migraines. Her doctors at the foundation told her that she needed to have an angiogram performed. An angiogram is a brain test that uses dye inserted into veins in the brain to test the functionality of those veins. The medical professionals told the patient that an abnormal vein in her brain was likely the cause of her migraines.

Doing what any reasonable patient would do in the situation, the women heeded her doctors’ advice and had the procedure performed at a nearby hospital. The medical foundation which ordered the test lacked the resources to perform the procedure themselves.

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According to the Madison County Record, a brain injury lawyer has filed a complaint on behalf of an Illinois woman who suffered serious brain and brain stem injuries as a result of medical malpractice by a Belleville neurologist.

The medical malpractice lawsuit report explains that the woman was seriously injured after her neurologist failed to refer her to another doctor, a neurosurgeon, for consultation after he discovered a lesion in her carotid artery. The carotid arteries supply blood to a person’s brain. The Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit further alleges that due to this failure, her lesion doubled in size and this growth caused her to suffer severe brain and brain stem injuries.

Brain injuries can manifest in many different ways and have varying affects on the victims. Brain injuries can be caused by medical malpractice, such as this case, but also in car and truck accidents, in sports related accidents, or events such as a fall. According to the Brain Injury Association of America, over 795,000 people suffer non-traumatic brain injuries every year. Every injury is different and can cause different symptoms. In this woman’s case, she suffered from headaches, memory loss, and vision impairments. The lawsuit also claims that she suffered permanent disability pain.

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On September 17, 2007, Barbara Lefforge entered St. Edna Nursing home for rehabilitation purposes. Barbara had just had surgery to repair tendon damage in her foot. Barbara’s surgeon mistakenly prescribed 50mg of Morphine when he had intended to prescribe her 50mg of Demerol.

The improper prescription was noticed by the pharmacist from which the medication was to be received, but nevertheless St. Edna administered all of the morphine they had in stock (a total of 30 mg). Upon the drug administration, Barbara suffered an overdose. St. Edna failed to monitor her and failed to bring her to the hospital until the next morning. Consequently, Barbara suffered a significant brain injury. This injury led Barbara to file a medical malpractice action against both her original surgeon and St. Edna.

The jury found St. Edna 90% at fault and her original surgeon 10% at fault. Sadly, Barbara was only at St. Edna a little over five hours when the negligence that caused her injury occurred. This was an injury that could have easily been avoided, and one that happens all too often in both hospital and nursing home settings.

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The jury in a medical malpractice trial, recently awarded $12 million for a hospital’s delay in evaluating and transferring an air rifle victim.

According to the Pasadena Star News, twenty-two-year old, Jessica Ramirez, was shot with an air rifle and the pellet entered her brain. Nevertheless, she remained conscious after the shooting and was able to ask for help. She was immediately taken to the hospital, which in turn sent her to another facility for surgery to remove the pellet. However, staff waited 5 hours before transferring her. At trial, the neurosurgeon who removed the pellet testified that, had he been allowed to operate sooner, her outcome would have better. Instead, her injury progressed into a traumatic brain injury that has left her in a persistent vegetative state.

More than $10.6 million of the award was for Jessica’s future medical care.

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A 59-year-old woman was awarded a $6.3 million verdict after a hospital’s negligence caused her to suffer irreversible brain damage. The treating physician and hospital’s negligence caused the woman to lose most of her short-term memory and her ability to speak. According to the medical malpractice lawyer who represented the victim, she must now live with her grown son and requires help with everyday activities such as eating and even chewing.

The woman went into the hospital for back surgery. The brain damage occurred after the surgery when hospital staff administered a dangerous mix of medications, creating serious respiratory problems. The hospital staff failed to intubate the victim in a timely manner, causing a lack of oxygen to the brain. The verdict included future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium and loss of the ability to perform daily tasks. To access the full article on this medical malpractice verdict follow the link.

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Last week, a jury awarded a verdict of $7.4 million to a child who suffered permanent brain damage as a result of a hospital’s failure to treat an infection that eventually developed into meningitis.

The child was only one month old when she began showing symptoms of an infection at the hospital. Rather then administering antibiotics at the first signs of the infection, the doctors in the neonatal intensive care unit delayed treatment for eight hours, causing the infection to worsen. As a result of this negligence, the infection eventually progressed into meningitis which, in turn, lead to the child suffering brain damage.

The child has since been fitted with a permanent shunt to drain excess fluid from her brain and prevent the buildup of intracranial pressure, which could cause further brain damage. Now, at the age of five, she requires both physical and behavioral therapy.

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An 11-year-old North Carolina boy was left with a permanent brain injury after doctors made numerous medical mistakes during his treatment. After falling from a tree, the boy received treatment riddled with instances of medical malpractice. After detecting a shoulder injury, the boy was given herapin, a blood thinner, to treat a blood clot in his shoulder. The boy’s brachial plexus nerves of his spinal cords had been damaged and that injury had gone unnoticed, and as a result, the herapin caused bleeding in the spinal cord. Additionally, a mass called a subdural hematoma was located in his skull and doctors placed a halo around his head to stabilize his spine. One of the four screws used to keep the halo in place was screwed in ¾ inch too far by a medical resident, which caused further bleeding in the brain. As a result, the child suffered a significant brain injury and will be forced to live with severe cognitive impairments, preventing him from ever living independently or holding a job. A jury ruled in favor of the boy in the medical malpractice lawsuit, awarding him over $10 million from the various defendants. For the full story, click here.