Phillips Law Offices Obtains $15 Million Settlement in Wrongful Death Case
SETTLEMENT: Phillips Law Offices is proud to announce that its managing partner, Stephen D. Phillips and Michael J. Phillips secured a $15 million settlement for the wrongful death of a 48 year-old man who died during an outpatient elective hernia surgery.
Our client, a supervisor at a local grocery store chain, was injured at work when he was lifting a heavy object. He suffered a hernia injury—a non-life threatening condition that hundreds of thousands of Americans safely have surgery for every year. When our client arrived at his surgeon’s office, his blood pressure was 178/120, which the American Heart Association, or AHA, describes as Stage 2 hypertension and on the threshold of hypertensive crisis. The surgeon marked our client’s blood pressure as “normal”, ordered no additional testing, and scheduled him for surgery.
When the nurse from the hospital called our client before surgery, he told her that he often felt tired, fatigued, and sleepy—telltale symptoms of high blood pressure—and that he had a history of high blood pressure. Just like the surgeon, she ordered no additional testing.
When our client arrived at the hospital the morning of surgery, his blood pressure was taken again, this time at 207/142—a hypertensive crisis according to the American Heart Association. In her 22 years at the hospital, the nurse who took his blood pressure had never seen a blood pressure as high as our client’s and thought for sure that his surgery would be cancelled. The anesthesiologist and nurse anesthetist both spoke with our client and proceeded with surgery. Our client, a caring husband and father of five children, suffered a cardiac arrest during surgery due to his hypertensive crisis, was terribly brain-injured, and died a few months thereafter.
“When your patient arrives in hypertensive crisis, you as a healthcare provider have a duty to protect your patient—not send him to elective, non-urgent hernia surgery under general anesthesia,” said Stephen Phillips, the primary attorney on the case. “The substantial amount this case settled for speaks volumes to how egregious the conduct of the healthcare providers was when they were not willing to advocate for their patient and stop this surgery from proceeding.”
Despite the conduct, this case required serious critical thinking and careful legal work by Phillips. The four defendants in the case—the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, the nurse anesthetist, and the hospital—joined together and took the defense of “blaming the patient.” They argued that our client—a layperson with no medical background—needed to be more knowledgeable and forthcoming about his high blood pressure.
“Defendants in medical malpractice cases love to say, ‘if it’s not in the medical chart, it did not happen,” said Phillips. “Yet, when they need to craft up a defense outside of the chart, they say, ‘We treat the patient, not the chart. We cannot write everything down, give us a break.”
“The defense made a big deal about communication between our client and their health care providers. “There was a lot of finger-pointing in this case, a lot of, ‘If I had known this, I would have done that.’ At some point, there needed to be some self-reflection and self-responsibility by the health care providers .”
The decedent is survived by his wife of 24 years and five children—one of whom has special needs and required 24-hour care. Our client would come home from work and immediately stepped into the role of caretaker of his special needs son, sleeping next to him, changing his clothes, and bathing him. He was incredibly dedicated to his family and community and his death leaves a big hole in the lives of his family, friends, and coworkers. This $15,000,000 settlement will never bring him back, but will hopefully give some closure to a wonderful family that Phillips Law Offices had the honor of representing.
Phillips Law Offices is often asked by their opposing counsel and even their opponents to represent their family and friends in personal injury and wrongful death matters. This fact speaks volumes about the nature of our practice.
Phillips Law Offices
Chicago’s Top Rated Personal Injury and Medical malpractice attorneys.