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$19.5 million for man left brain damaged after failed routine tracheostomy exchange

CHICAGO (January 28, 2019) – Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C. has obtained a $19.5 million settlement on behalf of a man who was left brain damaged after what was supposed to be a routine tracheostomy exchange at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The settlement represents the second $19.5 million settlement obtained by Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard in less than two weeks. The legal team was led by attorneys Patrick A. Salvi II and Patrick A. Salvi.

On December 17, 2016 a 56-year-old man was admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital on a ventilator with sepsis, hemorrhagic shock, and acute hypoxemia respiratory failure after being treated for a pulmonary embolism at Northwestern-affiliated Lake Forest Hospital. Doctors at Northwestern determined the patient to be an “extremely difficult airway” due to his large neck, which increases the risk of a false passage into the tissue between the outer layer of the neck and the trachea. On December 26, the patient underwent a tracheostomy where an 8.0 mm cannula was placed without complications. After the procedure, a tracheostomy exchange to downsize the tube was scheduled for January 2, 2017.

On that date, the plaintiff alleged doctors at Northwestern failed to use a guide while performing the procedure, and as a result, created a false passage and failed to maintain his airway. It was further alleged Northwestern Memorial failed to have adequate equipment and personnel available for the loss of a patient’s airway and that Plaintiff should have been in the ICU, not a general medical floor.

As a result of the incident, Plaintiff suffered a hypoxic brain injury and was diagnosed with Lance-Adams Syndrome, a neurological complication that impairs his motor skills and inhibits his ability to use his muscles without severe myoclonic jerking. Today, at 58 years old, the Plaintiff’s brain injury requires him to need some attendant care.

“Our client was almost ready for discharge when this tragedy occurred. This never should have happened. Now, even the muscles he needs to open his mouth to talk or eat have uncontrollable myoclonus,” Attorney Patrick Salvi II said. “Hopefully, with the right medical care and intensive therapy, he will maximize his quality of life in this new normal. I am optimistic his rehabilitation potential is high now that he has these resources.”

“Our client’s doctors scrambled for medical supplies that should have been immediately available and accessible when a patient with a difficult airway undergoes a trach exchange. The delay in adequate care allowed his hypoxia to cause cardiac arrest and brain damage. This devastating injury was completely avoidable and only made possible through systemic negligence,” Attorney Patrick A. Salvi Sr. said.

The $19.5 million settlement was obtained during a mediation with retired Judge Donald O’Connell.

The Plaintiff was also represented by attorney Thomas R. Mulroy III of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C.

For more information or to schedule an interview with the attorneys please contact Marcie Mangan at mmangan@salvilaw.com or (312) 372-1227.

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