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$12 Million Jury Verdict in Medical Malpractice Case

February 15, 2013

Estate of M.G. v. Gregory Rauch, M.D.; Orland Primary Care Specialists, Ltd.; Brian Crowley, D.O.; Palos Emergency Medical Services, Ltd.; Maria Zurawski, R.N.; Acute Extracorporeal Services, LLC; and, Advocate Christ Medical Center.

$12,261,131 jury verdict in Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. Plaintiff, a 49-year-old gentleman visited his internist, Dr. Gregory Rauch (Orland Primary Care Specialists, Ltd.) with a one-week history of feeling sick and nauseated, and a one-day history of severe anxiety attacks. Dr. Rauch did not order a CBC (complete blood count) or do a thorough workup to rule out a medical cause for plaintiff’s complaints. Dr. Rauch did order a CMP blood test to follow-up an elevated cholesterol result from a previous visit. Plaintiff returned to Dr. Rauch two days later still not well and the blood draw for CMP was done. The CMP results were reported the next day, which showed elevated Bilirubin and elevated Creatinine. Dr. Rauch acknowledged that anxiety did not produce those elevated values but he did not order a CBC. The following day, plaintiff felt like he was going to have a heart attack and die. He went to the emergency room at Palos Community Hospital where he was seen by defendant Dr. Brian Crowley (Palos Emergency Medical Services, Ltd.). Dr. Crowley spent 5-10 minutes plaintiff, heard that Dr. Rauch had referred him to a psychiatrist, assumed that Dr. Rauch had done a CMP and CBC and that the results were normal, and ruled out a medical cause for the plaintiff’s complaints. In fact, no CBC had been done, and Dr. Crowley did not learn that the CMP results were abnormal. Three days following the visit to the emergency room. Plaintiff was brought by ambulance to Advocate Christ Medical Center with neurological symptoms.

Shortly after plaintiff arrival at Christ, a CBC showed severe anemia, severe thrombocytopenia, and fragmented red blood cells on the peripheral smear, confirming a diagnosis of TTP (thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura). At 4:30 p.m., the hematologist ordered a transfusion of 3 units of fresh frozen plasma over 60 minutes and plasmapheresis to follow as quickly as possible. The hematologist and an MICU resident then called defendant Acute Extracorporeal Services, LLC, a division of Fresenius Medical Care North America, which provides plasmapheresis services to Christ, and advised the dispatcher that plaintiff needed emergency plasmapheresis. They also advised the dispatcher that a catheter was about to be placed and all the plasma necessary to perform plasmapheresis had been ordered from the blood bank. Within a half hour of the initial call, the dispatcher for AES contacted the nurse, Maria Zurawski, and told her of the emergent need for plasmapheresis at Christ. Zurawski did not go straight to Christ and choose to go to Good Samaritan Hospital to do a routine phlebotomy procedure. Thereafter, she went home for 3 ½ hours. Zurawski finally left home at 10:30 p.m. and arrived at Christ at 11:00 p.m. By that time, plaintiff was in full code status. He did not survive the code care and was pronounced dead at 11:40 p.m. Plaintiff is survived by his wife of 22 years, and their three children, now ages 22-18.

UPDATE – October 21, 2015 – The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed our verdict and the judgment plus interest was paid. Gulino v. Zurawski, 2015 IL App (1st) 131587