In April 2015, jurors in a Chicago federal courtroom hearing a medical malpractice case returned a verdict for the plaintiff for $9.4 million. The jurors concluded that the surgeons improperly performed bariatric surgery on the 52-year-old Michigan City woman, leaving her with serious brain damage. This award is in addition to the $5 million out-of-court settlement from Downers Grove, Ill. Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, where the botched bariatric surgery took place.
Attorneys representing plaintiff Kathryn Parker claim in 2010 she sought out medical assistance of Drs. Allen Mikhail and Jeffrey Rosen because she was suffering from obesity. The plaintiff was given the option of undergoing gastric bypass surgery to help her lose weight and regain her health. Her attorneys allege the doctors knew Ms. Parker suffered a condition requiring medication to thin her blood, but used the wrong drugs before her surgery.
The side effect of taking the wrong blood thinning drug could not be easily reversed. This became a significant issue when internal bleeding began unexpectedly.
Life Weigh Bariatrics
Ms. Parker’s initial consultation with her doctors seeking treatment for obesity occurred in their Merrillville office. Mikhail and Rosen are part of LifeWeigh Bariatrics (Downers Grove) and perform bariatric surgeries at Advocate Good Samaritan. In preparation for her surgery, her doctors prescribed the wrong anti-coagulation drug, which then caused a significant loss of blood circulation to the brain and internal bleeding.
The lawsuit alleges that the anti-coagulation medication caused excessive bleeding in Ms. Parker’s digestive tract. In addition, the suit claims reparative procedures to remove blood clots only provided a temporary improvement of her condition. After weeks in the hospital, the plaintiff developed various medical conditions including acute kidney dysfunction and abnormally high levels of potassium (kalemia) in her bloodstream.
Because of the hyperkalemia, Kathryn went into cardiac arrest. A subsequent medical error occurred when it took 12 minutes for the hospital personnel to shock her heart after it had arrested. The plaintiff suffered a lack of oxygen during that event, causing significant brain damage and extensive weakness in both of her legs.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Ms. Parker alleges her doctors and the Downers Grove Hospital were responsible for medical errors that occurred during and after her surgery. The lawyers allege that medical malpractice caused Kathryn to suffer numerous medical issues by indicating she is no longer able to provide her own care, or care to her four children, whom she had homeschooled prior to her surgery.
Loss of Cognitive Skills
Now confined to a wheelchair, Kathryn has lost many cognitive skills and the ability to walk. After more than 20 years of marriage, the plaintiff indicates that she blames the medical mistake as the root cause of her divorce. She now receives assistance for her daily physical, hygiene and medical needs from her three sisters and nurses’ aides.
The two-week trial was presented by Ms. Parker’s attorney, in United States District Court in Chicago. The federal jurors took only three hours of deliberation before reaching their verdict. Less than four years after her botched surgery, Kathryn’s medical expenses have already total $1.5 million.
Fortunately, the plaintiff was able to file the case in Illinois to avoid the medical malpractice caps award in her home state of Indiana that would have limited her damages to $1.25 million. This shortfall could have been financially devastating to her in covering the cost of her health care needs.
Surgical Errors During Gastric Bypass Procedures: A Common Problem
Unfortunately, medical mistakes involving gastric bypass surgeries are nothing new. Many medical errors and complications cause various health problems to obese patients hoping to lose weight. Some of these health problems include hernias, post-operative infection, excessive bleeding and death.
Other complications include doctors failing to diagnose leakage or perforation of the bowel connection in a timely manner after anastomosis. Other common issues involve polyneuropathy where the patient feels burning pain or tingling and numbness in the extremities. Sepsis (bloodstream infection) and peritonitis (abdomen inflammation) can also produce potentially life-threatening conditions when left untreated.
Doctors and staff are duty bound to provide the best medical care before, during and after surgeries. They have an obligation to monitor every patient’s postoperative recovery and take the complaints of the patient seriously. The brain damaging outcome of Ms. Parker’s treatment is an indication that some doctors need to do more to ensure the safety of their patients.