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Failure to Provide Timely Emergency Care Leads to Wrongful Death Malpractice Suit in Mt. Vernon

For Immediate Release: October 5, 2017

Contact: Craig M. Sandberg, 312.263.7249,

Mt. Vernon, IL – On April 23, 2017, before 2:12 a.m., F-49 presented herself to the emergency department at SSM Health Good Samaritan Hospital – Mt. Vernon. Although she was a walk-in patient, F-49's condition was critical due to her respiratory emergency wherein she was complaining of acute onset of extreme shortness of breath and restlessness and showing signs of physical exhaustion. F-49 was observed pacing all over the room stating, “Help me, help me” and “Please help me” and “I can’t breathe, help me”.

She was observed spitting up red thick frothy sputum, which was consistent with sudden (acute) pulmonary edema, which is characterized by dyspnea (Dyspnea is “shortness of breath”. Stedman's Medical Dictionary 556 (27th ed. 2000)) and hypoxia (“Hypoxia” is “a reduction of oxygen supply to tissue below physiological levels.” Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary 908 (32d ed. 2012). “Hypoxia” refers to a “decrease below normal levels of oxygen in inspired gases, arterial blood, or tissue without reaching anoxia.” Stedman's Medical Dictionary 939 (28th ed. 2006)) secondary to fluid accumulation in the lungs that impairs gas exchange and lung compliance. Further, she presented with findings suggesting systemic effects of hypoxia and/or hypercapnia (Hypercarbia, also known as hypercapnia, is an excess of carbon dioxide in the blood. Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary 887 (32d ed. 2012)) and, thus, immediate treatment was required to prevent further problems that might lead to, inter alia, cardiac arrest. At no time in the 20 minutes following her arrival at the hospital did the defendants attempt to protect or secure F-49's airway. F-49 continued to become more hypoxic eventually driving her into cardiac arrest, anoxic brain injury, and, eventually, death.

According to the plaintiff’s 2-622 health care professional’s report, the standard of care was deviated because the defendants failed to timely and properly establish an airway in order to provide proper oxygenation and ventilation prior to a patient’s clinical condition further deterioration.

The death certificate describes the cause of death as cardiac arrest, acute hypoxic respiratory failure, and anoxic brain injury.

F-49 was survived by her four adult children.

WHAT: Medical malpractice complaint filed in Gordon v. SSM Health Care St. Louis, et al. (Case No. 17 L 52).

WHERE: Circuit Court of the Second Judicial Circuit, Jefferson County Courthouse, 100 South 10th Street, Mt. Vernon, Illinois 62964

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