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MEDICAL MALPRACTICE – PARAMEDICS ARRIVE ON SCENE WITH EMPTY TANK

Publication: Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter Published:2006

Estate of Angela McKee, deceased v City of Chicago, Monica C. Carlet, Maurice Guilford 03L-6547
Tried Apr.3-10,2006

Verdict: $1,500,000: (for loss of society). Special Interrogatory: Did any paramedics act willfully and wantonly in providing care and treatment for Angela McKee on May 27, 2002 “Yes.”

Judge: Irwin J. Solganick (IL Cook-Law)

Pltf Atty(s): Dean  Caras and Tara C. Meadows of Dean  Caras & Associates DEMAND: $100,000 ASKED: $10,000,000

Deft Atty(s): Stephen Glockner and Thomas J. Lawler of Chicago

Corporation Counsel for all defts (SELF-INSURED) OFFER: $10,000 total

Pltf Medl: Dr. Robert Mulliken (Emergency Medicine)

PltfExpert(s): Dr. Fernando Soler, 1925 E. Rand Rd., Arlington Heights, IL (847-253-3300) (Internist)

Deft Expert(s): Dr. Max Koenigsberg (Emergency Medicine) for all defts

May 27, 2002, Angela McKee experienced shortness of breath due to an asthma attack, and her live-in boyfriendcalled 911 for assistance. The City of Chicago responded by dispatching Ambulance 24 and Engine 61, a fireengine rated for advanced life support. The engine, coincidentally staffed with three paramedics and one EMT,arrived before the ambulance and its medical staff began treating McKee with Albuterol and oxygen at a rate ofsix liters per minute through a nebulizer mask. The boyfriend testified that after eight to ten minutes, one of theparamedics noticed that oxygen was not flowing and said “The oxygen tank is empty. I forgot to check it thismorning. I’m sorry.” One of the paramedics then ran down to the engine and returned with a spare tank.Paramedics then brought McKee down to the ambulance and spent nearly ten minutes on scene before leaving andtransporting her to University of Chicago Hospital. En route, McKee went into respiratory arrest and then cardiacarrest. Paramedics continued to supply oxygen through the bag-va1ve-mask and did not intubate. McKee wasrevived at U.C,’s emergency room, but sustained anoxic brain damage. McKee F-51 remained on life support untilthe family decided to disconnect her when it was determined she had no brain activity after a prolonged periodwithout oxygen. She died on June 8, 2002, survived by five children. Estate contended paramedics willfullydisregarded standing medical orders regarding oxygen, intubation and timely transport for asthma attack, causingdeath. Defense contended the paramedics of Engine 61 and Ambulance 24 met the standard of care by assessingpatient’s condition and treating her with oxygen and Albuterol, and they appropriately altered the medication andrate and mode of delivery of oxygen as her condition deteriorated, going from six liters per minute whiledispensing Atbutetot to fifteen liters per minute of pure oxygen through a bag-valve-mask after she had gone intorespiratory arrest. Defense further argued that McKee’s anoxic brain injury and consequent death resulted from asudden fatal asthma attack and not the care and treatment provided by City paramedics. Pltfs counsel reports that a fourteen minute period of paramedic records were blank and that, basically, paramedics arrived at the scene with an empty oxygen tank to treat an asthma attack.