Wednesday, February 20, 2013

No-Show Nurse Causes Death in $12,261,131 Verdict

A Cook County jury on February 15, 2013, awarded $12,261,131 to the Estate of M.G. after a three-week trial before the Honorable James P. Flannery, Jr.  Bruce R. Pfaff and Matthew D. Ports of Pfaff & Gill, Ltd. tried the case for the family of the deceased. The focus of plaintiff’s case was on Nurse Maria Zurawski, employed by Acute Extracorporeal Services, L.L.C., a subsidiary of Fresenius Medical Care North America.  Fresenius is one of the largest providers of dialysis and apheresis services in the country.  Doctors at Advocate Christ Medical Center made arrangements through a dispatcher at Fresenius at 4:30 p.m. on 10/25/09 for a nurse to come to do a plasmapheresis on plaintiff “as soon as possible.”  The dispatcher said the nurse was “on the way.”  Although the nurse was in Winfield at the time of the call, 45 minutes away, she arrived 6 hours later. 

By the time Nurse Zurawski arrived at Advocate Christ Medical Center, plaintiff  had already coded and was pronounced dead 40 minutes later.  The nurse testified that she chose not to go to the hospital right away because she might have to wait for the plasma to be prepared.  “Her conduct went beyond carelessness, it was callous,” said plaintiff's attorney, Bruce R. Pfaff of Pfaff & Gill, Ltd.  “The doctor ordering the plasmapheresis did everything possible to see that a catheter was placed for plasmapheresis immediately, sufficient plasma was ordered to the blood bank on a stat basis, and he phoned the plasmapheresis service himself to make sure that the word got through that immediate plasmapheresis was necessary,” Pfaff added.

The other defendant found liable was Advocate Christ Medical Center, which was sued as the apparent principal of the plasmapheresis service as well as for the negligent conduct of its nursing staff and its blood bank. Co-defendants, Dr. Gregory Rauch of Orland Primary Care Services, and Dr. Brian Crowley of Palos Emergency Medical Services received not guilty verdicts.  

M.G. is survived by his wife and three adult children. 

This is the sixth case in which Mr. Pfaff has obtained a verdict in excess of $10 Million.

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