Jury Awards $24 Million For Botched Kidney Stone Removal

As reported in the The Times this week, on Thursday, an Illinois jury awarded a man nearly $24 million in medical malpractice case brought against a doctor and nurse practitioner following complications suffered while having a kidney stone removed from his ureter. According to court records, the plaintiff entered St. Mary's Hospital in Streator, Illinois in November 2001 for surgery involving a kidney stone in his ureter. During surgery, he underwent cardiac arrest and the flow of oxygen to his brain was interrupted. As a result of the oxygen interruption and subsequent stroke, the man lost most of his fine motor skills and suffers from spastic movement, severe double vision and slow, slurred speech, making him difficult to understand. He is married and has two children. Before the surgery, he worked for a phone company.

At STSW, our lawyers routinely handle medical malpractice / medical negligence cases in which patients have experienced cerebral hypoxia (the lost or reduced supply of oxygen to the brain) as the result of the administration of anesthesia or cardiac arrest.  Generally speaking cases of cerebral hypoxia are placed into four categories:  diffuse cerebral hypoxia (moderate impairment of the brain resulting from low oxygen levels in the blood), cerebral infarction, focal cerebral ischemia (often referred to as a stroke that occurs in a very localized area of the brain) and global cerebral ischemia (total stoppage of blood flow to the brain).  When someone experiences a total deprivation of oxygen to the brain it is called anoxia.  Often times physicians refer to patients as having suffered an anoxic brain injury.  Anoxia often results from hypoxia (reduced oxygen availability).  Another common term that is often heard, and which is associated with hypoxia is a TIA (transient ischemic attack).   A TIA is essentially a mini stroke.  The American Heart Association defines a TIA as a transient episode of neurologic dysfunction caused by a focal brain, spinal cord or retinal ischemia (reduced blood flow), without acute infarction.  The symptoms associated with a TIA can resolve within a few minutes unlike a full blown stroke.  TIAs are caused by the same things as strokes -- disruption of cerebral blood flow.   Another common term that is often heard is a "silent stroke".  A silent stroke is a stroke that does not manifest itself with any noticeable symptoms; i.e., there is no paralysis, no slurring of speech, etc.  Essentially, the person has suffered a stroke but even they may not know it.  While seemingly innocuous, however, silent strokes still cause damage to the brain due to the reduced blood flow to the brain and place the person at a greater risk of having a major stroke at some point in the future.  Younger adults and women appear to be more at risk for silent strokes than other kinds of strokes according to the American Heart Association. 

Regardless, under any of these circumstances, brain injuries can result.  These injuries are often times extremely debilitating, resulting in the victim being unable to speak, move various limbs, and decreased intellectual capacity.  These individuals often require a lifetime of care and treatment as they become unable to handle basic daily activities of living such as getting dressed, feeding themselves and/or brushing their teeth.  

If you or a loved one has been the victim of stroke that you believe was caused by the negligence of a health care provider, call our firm at 410-385-2225 for a free consultation.