An attorney who suffered brain damage after he was misdiagnosed at a hospital outside of Chicago was awarded a $20 million medical malpractice settlement.
In September 2012, the then-50-year-old attorney made a late-night trip to the Central DuPage Hospital suffering from a headache, a stiff neck, vomiting and disorientation. He was seen by a physician’s assistant who was a friend of the family. He gave the man fluids and pain medication and sent him home.
Two days later the attorney collapsed at his law office after suffering a subarachnoid hemorrhage, usually caused by a ruptured aneurysm. The condition, in which blood leaks into the space between two of the membranes that surround the brain, can cause a stroke and is fatal in 50 percent of cases. After collapsing, the man’s heart stopped twice before an ambulance could transport him to a nearby medical center. The symptoms the attorney had presented days before at Central DuPage Hospital were a precursor of the catastrophic hemorrhage.
In the lawsuit, filed in 2013 by the man’s wife, it was alleged that the emergency room physicians were medically negligent for failing to identify and treat bleeding in the man’s brain. The doctors, according to the lawsuit, failed to order a CT scan and consult a neurologist the first time the man went to the hospital. A computerized tomography (CT) scan combines a series of X-ray images taken from different angles and creates cross-sectional images of the bones, blood vessels and soft tissues that provide more detailed information than do X-rays. Such a scan could have revealed a potential problem in the man’s brain — a “warning bleed” — and give doctors time to perform a procedure to prevent the catastrophic stroke.
After the man collapsed, doctors had to drain the blood and insert small coils into his brain through a catheter to stop the bleeding. Had he been diagnosed days earlier via a CT scan and lumbar puncture, doctors could have performed the same procedure to the smaller “warning bleed” and potentially prevented the massive hemorrhage that caused the stroke and subsequent brain damage, the family’s attorney said.
The stroke left the man with “sustained serious damage to his short-term memory.” The father of four requires 24-hour care and he cannot retain new information for more than a half an hour. That renders him unable to work and he can no longer practice law.
The hospital and the man’s family reached the $20 million settlement after the trial had started. The trial judge accepted the settlement, but issued an order that dismissed the case’s named physician defendants without prejudice, meaning in the future, a lawsuit could be filed against individual doctors.
If you have been injured or a loved one killed due to negligence and malpractice by a doctor, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the offices of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at 800-529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.