Lawyers at DBMS successfully litigate a wide variety of civil cases and argue appeals in some of the most challenging jurisdictions in the country.

Medical Malpractice

DBMS Successfully Defends Chicago Area Neurosurgery Group

05/06/2022
Client:

Neurosurgery Group

Outcome:

Verdict for Defense

Synopsis:

Robert W. Smyth and Ashley E. Dus of DBMS successfully defended a leading Chicago area neurosurgery group in a case involving the management of a rare brain aneurysm regarding a patient who ultimately suffered aneurysm rupture causing her death. The case was tried in the Circuit Court of Cook County from April 4 – April 25, 2022.

DBMS’ client was legally responsible for the care of its leading brain vessel surgeon, and thus DBMS was defending the conduct of the surgeon. The decedent was a 74-year-old woman diagnosed with a rare brain aneurysm in her superior left cerebellar artery by the defendant surgeon, who is a nationally renowned aneurysm expert.

At the time of diagnosis and multiple times in follow-up office conversations, the neurosurgeon had several discussions with the patient at office visits in 2011 about the options for treatment of the aneurysm. The two options were to leave the aneurysm alone and monitor the aneurysm annually or to undergo a neuro-endovascular procedure to coil the aneurysm. The defendant neurosurgeon counseled the patient that the coiling procedure would stop blood flow in the left superior cerebellar artery and cause a significant stroke. The patient chose to leave the aneurysm alone and monitor the aneurysm. The patient did not return to see the neurosurgeon for three-plus years. In November 2014, the patient called the neurosurgeon’s office and reported sharp head pain. The neurosurgeon ordered an MRI, which was performed three days later. The MRI showed significant enlargement of the aneurysm, but no bleeding or signs specifically indicating impending rupture. The neurosurgeon planned to see the patient in the office on December 13, 2014, to discuss the enlargement and once again discuss options. The patient’s aneurysm ruptured on December 7, 2014, and she passed away on December 9, 2014.

The plaintiff contended that the management of the aneurysm was negligent, claiming that surgical treatment would not have caused stroke, and that interval enlargement necessitated immediate advice to surgically treat the aneurysm.  Plaintiff additionally criticized the defendant neurosurgeon for not immediately communicating the MRI changes prior to the office appointment December 13, 2014.

The defense contended that the defendant neurosurgeon acted appropriately in promptly reviewing the MRI results, which ruled out impending aneurysm rupture, and scheduling the patient for an office discussion in two weeks post MRI. The defense established that the neurosurgeon was not required to call the decedent with the MRI results because he ruled out neurosurgical emergency and definitive signs of impending aneurysm rupture. The defense contended that even had the patient been notified of the MRI results and was treated as an urgent case, given her other serious medical conditions, clearance for a surgical procedure that promised an outcome of significant stroke would not have been feasibly accomplished prior to the actual date of aneurysm rupture, December 7, 2014.

The plaintiff requested an award of $7 million in money damages.

The jury deliberated less than three hours before returning a unanimous defense verdict.