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Jury sides with hospital after patient’s death

Alan Scher Zagier//December 9, 2019//

Jury sides with hospital after patient’s death

Alan Scher Zagier//December 9, 2019//

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A St. Louis County jury rejected a medical-malpractice claim by the family of a man who died following his admission to Mercy Hospital for atrial fibrillation.

The jury deliberated for about two hours following a seven-day trial in July. The surviving spouse and adult daughter of Donald Wilson sued Mercy’s owner after Donald Wilson of O’Fallon, who was in his late 50s, died 12 days after he was admitted to the hospital with complaints of chest pain and a rapid heartbeat.

A left-heart catherization and coronary angiogram were performed the day after his admission. His condition worsened during the next two days; decreased blood pressure and shortness of breath led to respiratory distress and then failure that, in turn, led to cardiac arrest and an anoxic brain injury, said St. Louis plaintiff’s attorney Theresa Appelbaum. Wilson died on Jan. 17, 2017.

Defense attorney Halle Dimar of Brown & James credited the testimony of expert witness Dr. Martin Tobin for making a difference with jurors. The defense argued that Wilson’s death was not the result of negligence but rather attributable to a pre-existing heart condition along with the presence of other risk factors.

“That certainly did play into it,” she said.

The plaintiffs had argued that Mercy’s medical staff failed to promptly prescribe vasosuppessors that could have raised Wilson’s pressure, didn’t intubate him quickly enough and neglected to summon attending physicians sooner rather than rely on a medical resident who was supervising the intensive care unit.

“He just kept sinking further and further,” Appelbaum said of her client’s worsening condition while hospitalized.

Appelbaum noted that the decedent as well as his wife were ABB Power employees who survived a 2010 workplace shooting in which three people died and five others were injured.

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Medical malpractice, wrongful death

Venue: St. Louis County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 18SL-CC00434/July 3, 2019

Judge: Michael Jamison

Plaintiffs’ Experts: Dr. Gary Salzman, Kansas City (medical-diagnostic specialties); Dr. Joel Kahn, Bingham Farms, Michigan (medical-diagnostic specialties)

Defendant’s Experts: Dr. Martin Tobin, Chicago (medical-diagnostic specialties); Dr. Morton Rinder, St. Louis (medical-diagnostic specialties)

Special Damages: $222,500 in past economic damages, $400,500 in future economic damages, $666,000 in past noneconomic damages, $1.2 million in future noneconomic damages

First Pretrial Demand: $1.814 million

First Pretrial Offer: $35,000

Caption: Vickie and Adrienne Wilson v. Mercy Hospitals East Communities d/b/a Mercy Hospital

Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Matthew Padberg and Theresa Appelbaum, Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum, St. Louis

Defendant’s Attorneys: David Ellington and Halle Dimar, Brown & James, St. Louis

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