Levin & Perconti has just settled a medical malpractice lawsuit against Mt. Sinai Hospital, recovering $3.6 million for the estate of Alberto Mendez, who died after improperly administered anesthesia after a cascade of medical oversights. Mr. Mendez’s estate was represented by Founding Partner Steven Levin, Partner Margaret Battersby-Black and Associate Jaime Koziol.
“A Perfect Storm”
In 2012, Mr. Mendez visited the emergency department at Mt. Sinai hospital with obvious symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a disease that arises from muscle injury and causes muscle fibers to release their contents into the bloodstream. Leaked contents such as potassium can cause serious complications if left untreated, including kidney failure and even death. However, if timely interventions are implemented, rhabdomyolysis is treatable. What happens next has been described by Ms. Margaret Battersby-Black as a “little bit of a perfect storm.” Despite presenting with obvious symptoms that easily led to his diagnosis, Mr. Mendez’s potassium levels rose unnoticed by staff, allowing his overall condition to worsen and cause compartment syndrome in his thigh. Compartment syndrome occurs when a muscle injury causes pressure to build up in a part of the body, ultimately causing muscle death and requiring surgery. Doctors determined Mendez needed a consult on his condition. 2 hours after that determination, surgical residents evaluated Mendez and reached the conclusion that he needed a pressure-needle test to measure the pressure buildup in the affected thigh. 3 hours after calling for the test, it was finally administered, showing that his pressure level was at 80 millimeters of mercury. 5 mmHg is considered safe. 30 mmHg requires emergency surgery. While Mr. Mendez was prepped for surgery, his anesthesiologist, referred to a 12 hour old potassium level test and administered a drug that is specifically not recommended for patients with elevated potassium levels. The paralytic anesthetic, succinylcholine, caused Mr. Mendez to go into cardiac arrest 30 minutes after it was administered. He passed away 28 hours after his admission to Mt. Sinai.
Defense Not Strong Enough to Discredit Medical Negligence Argument
The anesthesiologist’s defense argued that she chose succinylcholine because it was an emergency surgery and the paralytic is known for its rapid onset. Her team also said that she had no reason to consider Mr. Mendez’s potassium levels, despite knowing he had rhabdomyolysis and that high potassium levels are a potential condition that can arise as a result of the disease. The anesthesiologist ultimately paid $2 million, the university (Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science) who supplied the residents that initially evaluated Mr. Mendez contributed $1 million, and surgeon Hasmukh Patel contributed $600,000.
Delayed tests, improper monitoring, and medication error all contributed to Mr. Mendez’s unfortunate death at Mt. Sinai. Had Mr. Mendez’s worsening symptoms been evaluated and treated in a timely manner, he likely would have survived.
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Levin & Perconti has recovered over $520 million in verdicts and settlements for its clients. We are a passionate team of attorneys whose focus is on justice for the victims and loved ones of those who have been affected by negligence. If you or someone you love has suffered as a result of a delayed diagnosis or medication error, we encourage you to contact our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys today for a free consultation.