Failure to diagnose, treat pulmonary embolism

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Case in Point

December 17, 2013

Failure to diagnose, treat pulmonary embolism 

Suit alleged that a hospital’s anesthesia team failed to diagnose the condition and failed to properly track the patient’s vital signs during a biopsy, which led to a misdiagnosis. Suit also alleged an intensive care doctor failed to prescribe anticoagulation therapy. The parties settled for $7.25 million. Strzykalski v. U. of Chi. Med. Ctr.

Monique Dvoran-Strzykalski, 33, underwent a breast biopsy at the University of Chicago Medical Center. During the procedure, she experienced a heart attack, which doctors attributed to anaphylaxis. Postoperatively, Dvoran-Strzykalski was treated with a prophylactic dose of Heparin; however, an intensive care physician discontinued this after two days.

Four days after the biopsy, Dvoran-Strzykalski suffered a saddle pulmonary embolism and died. She had been a teacher and planned to become a school administrator earning about $125,000 annually. She is survived by her husband and minor child.

Dvoran-Strzykalski’s husband, individually and on behalf of her estate, sued the hospital, alleging that the anesthesia team failed to diagnose an intraoperative pulmonary embolism and failed to properly track Dvoran-Strzykalski’s vital signs during the biopsy, which led to a misdiagnosis of anaphylaxis. Suit also claimed that the intensive care physician failed to prescribe therapeutic anticoagulation therapy and timely rule out deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.

The defense argued that anaphylaxis had been the correct diagnosis.

The parties settled for $7.25 million.

Citation: Strzykalski v. U. of Chi. Med. Ctr., No. 08 L 009820 (Ill., Cook Co. Cir. June 26, 2013).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ members Joseph A. Power Jr. and Joseph W. Balesteri, both of Chicago.

Plaintiff experts: Walter Baigelman, pulmonology, Weston, Fla.; and John B. Downs, anesthesiology and critical care, Dunnellon, Fla.

Defense experts: Joseph R. Hartmann, cardiology, Naperville, Fla.; and William G. Soden, anesthesiology and critical care, Park Ridge, Ill.


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