On May 26, 2016 firm partners Donald Shapiro and Matthew Basinger obtained a $2,500,000 jury verdict on behalf of their client, the Estate of Paula Chibe in Circuit Court of Cook County, Case No. 2013 L 001037.
Paula Chibe, aged 35, was admitted to Ingalls Memorial Hospital on March 14, 2011 for back pain and was evaluated by neurosurgeon Martin Luken MD, who determined she needed emergency L5 and S1 laminectomies which were accomplished on March 16, 2011. The patient was cleared for surgery by Dr. Asma Manzar, a hospitalist. Anesthesiologist Jeffrey Yeh, concluded the patient had probable obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), based on physical exam and he altered his anesthetic approach by doing an awake intubation and avoiding narcotics, due to the increased risk of respiratory depression posed by OSA. Dr. Manzar did not note probable OSA in her evaluation. Postoperatively, Dr. Luken wrote an order for 3 to 4 mg of subcutaneous Dilaudid, and Nurse Montes administered 3mg of Dilaudid around 3:20 am on 3/17/11. Nurse Montes checked on the patient an hour later and accepted a nonverbal response as to the effect of the medication from the patient, in violation of Ingalls’ policy which prohibited reliance on nonverbal responses. The patient was found unresponsive an hour thereafter and a code blue was unsuccessful and the patient died. Plaintiff contended the Dilaudid was excessive, and that the defendants failed to appreciate the risks that probable OSA with Dilaudid would lead to respiratory depression. Plaintiff argued all providers had a duty to ensure the patient was hooked up to a pulse oximeter to guard against respiratory depression. Plaintiff also argued that Dr. Manzar and Dr. Yeh had a duty to warn the neurosurgeon Dr. Luken about the respiratory depressive effects of Dilaudid in light of the patient’s probable OSA and to advise him to order a pulse oximeter.
After deliberating for more than 3 hours, the jury returned a verdict for $2,500,000 in favor of Paula’s five children and against Ingalls Memorial Hospital and Dr. Asmar Manzar. Dr. Manzar’s insurance company had refused to even discuss settlement and Ingalls had offered only $250,000.