In its decision filed on October 21, 2015, the Appellate Court of Illinois First Judicial District Third Division (“Appellate Court”) upheld an Illinois medical malpractice jury verdict in the amount of $12,261,131 in favor of the widow of a man who died on October 25, 2009 from complications of a rare blood disorder known as Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP).
What Is TTP?
In a person suffering from TTP, a protein in the patient’s plasma causes the platelets in his body to clump together, which then clog his blood vessels and does not allow red blood cells to effectively pass through the blood vessels, causing organ damage from lack of oxygen. TTP is universally fatal without prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
The only effective treatment for TTP is plasmapheresis, which involves removing the patient’s blood from his body in order to separate the plasma from the rest of the blood after which the blood is then combined with plasma from a donor and the treated blood is then reintroduced into the patient’s body. Each plasmapheresis treatment takes two to three hours to complete, which is done on a daily basis until the TTP patient begins to improve.
The plaintiff alleged in her Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit filed against the nurse who was assigned the task of proving plasmapheresis to her husband, and the business that employed the nurse, that the defendant business had been contacted at approximately 4:30 p.m. to provide plasmapheresis treatment to her husband at 4:42 p.m., but the defendant nurse did not arrive at the hospital to provide her husband with plasmapheresis until approximately 11 p.m. (the nurse had stopped at another hospital to perform a non-emergency phlebotomy procedure, after which she went home for several hours before going to the hospital where the plaintiff’s husband was a patient)). By that time, the plaintiff’s husband had gone into cardiac arrest, he was unable to be resuscitated, and he was pronounced dead at 11:40 p.m. due to multiple organ failure.
The defendants appealed the Illinois medical malpractice jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff, alleging that the plaintiff failed to introduce any competent evidence that the defendant nurse had breached the applicable nursing standard of care and that the plaintiff failed to prove that the defendant nurse’s conduct proximately caused the plaintiff’s husband’s death; in the alternative, the defendants argued that the verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence.
In deciding the appeal, the Appellate Court stated that the defendant nurse’s failing to report to the hospital to perform a procedure that she understood to constitute an emergency until six hours after being directed to do so was so grossly negligent that expert witness testimony regarding the requisite standard of care was not even required in the instant case.
The Appellate Court further held that the medical malpractice jury had sufficient evidence with which to conclude that the defendants proximately caused the plaintiff’s husband’s death (the plaintiff’s expert acknowledged the husband’s precarious physical health at the time of his diagnosis, but opined that that his chances for survival would have been “greater than 50 percent” had the defendant nurse delivered a timely plasmapheresis treatment).
Source Joanne Gulino v. Maria Zuwarski, et al., 2015 IL App (1st) 131587, No. 1-13-1587.
If you or a loved one were injured as a result of medical malpractice in Illinois or in another U.S. state, you should promptly consult with an Illinois medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state, who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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