Hernandez-Santamaria vs. Advocate Health Care

Introduction:

The beginning of this dispute started off pretty unimpressively. The patient went into the Advocate Health Care facility in order to undergo a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. This is a procedure that removes the gallbladder and ordinarily it is not a very dramatic event. The circumstances of this case suggest a cholecystectomy that went very wrong.

Filed: May 12, 2016

Jurisdiction: Circuit Court of Illinois, Cook County

Category: Medical Malpractice; Wrongful Death; Res Ipsa Loquitur

Plaintiff: Neida Hernandez-Santamaria, as the independent administrator of the estate of Ivonne M. Hernandez

Defendant(s): Advocate Health Care, Nikolaos Dallas, MD, Ying H. Lai, MD and Leo Thai, MD

Summary:

Ivonne Hernandez was admitted to Advocate on August 12, 2015 for treatment and care related to his gallbladder removal. He was under the care of Nikolaos Dallas, Ying H. Lai, and Leo Thai. The particular kind of cholecystectomy is what is referred to as laparoscopic. This means that the doctors create a small entry site away from the surgery situs and then use robotic devices to carry out the procedure. That is why it is also called keyhole surgery. Apparently, from the allegations contained in the complaint, doctors accidentally sliced into the liver causing carbon dioxide to run into the blood stream. The patient died from these complications on the very same day. Ivonne was survived by several sisters, a father, and a mother.

Claims and Damages:

There are two actual claims here. The first is a variant of malpractice, or professional negligence. The argument for this claim had several points including these: the defendants did not operate with sufficient care when performing the gallbladder removal; they negligently sliced into the decedent’s liver; they did not identify or treat the carbon dioxide release; and they caused the death of the decedent.

The other claim the plaintiff advanced as the administrator of the decedent’s estate was one of res ipsa loquitur. The main elements of this are that the plaintiff was injured; the defendant(s) had total control over the plaintiff; and the incident was one that normally only happens because of negligence.

Due to these claims, the plaintiff claimed the following damages in the case recently filed in Cook County, Illinois:

  • Loss of society
  • Loss of companionship
  • Grief, sorrow, and suffering
  • Financial losses and expenses

Insights:

  • Death in addition to negligence is the most tragic form of case and normally is attended with the highest compensation levels especially when the victim is not elderly.
  • While slicing the liver during a cholecystectomy ostensibly is prima facie negligence, the defendant might argue that this procedure is incredibly difficult and some amount of error should be accepted. Outside of pointing to the egregiousness consequences of death that were present here, it might be helpful to show how rare this side effect is generally in the relevant medical field.
  • The equipment itself might be to blame or the training levels of the medical staff using it. The relatively new and complicated nature of the tools involved suggests that part of the problem might come from the equipment and thus the manufacturers should be investigated as well.

Related Laws:

  • 735 ILCS 5/2-622
  • 740 ILCS 180
  • 750 ILCS 65/15
  • 735 ILCS 5/13-212
  • 735 ILCS 5/2-1116
  • 735 ILCS 5/2-1115
  • 735 ILCS 5/2-1114
  • 735 ILCS 5/2-1205

Legal Help for Injuries Caused by Surgical Errors and Accidental Lacerations

The Illinois medical malpractice attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers are committed to obtaining the compensation victims of surgical errors are entitled to. Our law firm has experience with surgical malpractice lawsuits involving accidental punctures and lacerations made by surgeons and operating room staff. We invite you to contact our office for a complimentary review of your situation.

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