Mary Kay Scott Obtains Not Guilty In Lake County, IL For Defendant Radiologist

Tried 10/11/17 – 10/25/17

Mary Kay Scott tried a medical negligence case to a not guilty verdict from October 11, 2017, through October 25, 2017. The plaintiff on May 30, 2010, at 2:00 a.m., while intoxicated drove his non-street legal dirt bike around the block in his neighborhood, and then drove into the back of a stopped SUV, and was ejected across the street. He suffered a penetrating knee injury on the right knee and other abrasions on the arm and leg on the right. His 9 months pregnant wife drove him to the hospital at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Vernon Hills, IL after the accident. Upon arrival he told the emergency staff he had rolled off his bike onto his right side, and did not advise of the ejection, which would have led to CT scanning. The radiologist reviewed a trauma series of plain x-rays, including C-spine, chest and pelvis. The radiologist appropriately noted on the pelvis x-ray: Trauma about the acetabulum of indeterminate age. The radiologist, per the hospital policy, sent a fax STAT preliminary interpretation advising of the finding to the ER, as well as a final detailed interpretation, and both were available in the electronic medical record of the patient along with the film. The radiologist also put arrows on the film to note the area of abnormality. The reading was indeterminate as there were signs of periosteal changes on the acetabulum which are more sub-acute to chronic as opposed to acute in nature. The ER physician did not recall seeing the preliminary report, and the orthopedic surgeon never reviewed the radiology reports. The patient stayed in the hospital until June 2, 2010, and never made a complaint of hip pain. Plaintiff was seen by the orthopedic surgeon in follow-up without any complaints of hip pain during office visits or numerous phone calls. On June 25, 2010, in a follow-up visit with the orthopedist that physician noted a leg length discrepancy on the right leg and took an x-ray showing a dislocation of the hip, only then did the plaintiff complain of hip pain, and stated he had noted the legs were different lengths a week ago. Plaintiff’s theory was that the x-ray of the pelvis showed an acute injury, and a telephone call should have been made to the ER physician as to the finding, and the fax was not the proper form of communication. Further plaintiff claimed the radiologist should have recommended a CT scan. The defense position was that the findings were not acute, appropriate communication was made, and no phone call was required to the ER, as the finding was not life threatening. Further there was no requirement to recommend a CT scan given the findings on the film.

The jury found the defendant radiologist not guilty, and noted the radiologist acted appropriately in doing the report and had met the standard of care in the manner of reporting. Interestingly both defendants filed an affirmative defense of contributory negligence of the plaintiff in giving an inaccurate history to the ER physician. The hospital was found not guilty as to the actions of the radiologist and emergency room physician for apparent agency. The hospital was found guilty of institutional negligence. The plaintiff was found to be 40% contributorily negligence. The orthopedist settled prior to trial. With reductions of the set-off and contributory negligence, the plaintiff’s recovery from the hospital was decreased from a verdict of $1,174,326 to $417,095.