Wrongful death suit filed against Belleville family practitioner

Steve Gonzalez Jul. 11, 2006, 8:56am

Wilma Abernathy claims John Boeren, M.D. of Belleville Family Medical Associates failed to diagnose her husband Vern Abernathy's brain tumor in a wrongful death suit filed July 3 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

According to the complaint, from Sept. 10, 1995 through his death of June 15, Boeren provided a continuous and ongoing course of treatment to Vern which included numerous tests, medications, and representations to Vern regarding the diagnosis and treatment of his medical problems.

Wilma claims that on Sept. 10, 1995, Vern suffered a seizure and collapse, and a brain lesion was detected by radiology studies. On Oct. 1, 1997, he underwent more radiologic testing which indicated the brain lesion expanded.

"From the period of 1997 through July 2, 2004, Vern suffered from dizziness, headaches, and disorientation," the complaint alleges.

Wilma claims that on July 2, 2004, Vern suffered a grand mal seizure and was diagnosed as having a cancerous tumor at the location previously identified as a brain lesion.

"Because of the actions and omissions by Dr. Boeren, Vern was not aware, and could not have been aware, that Dr. Boeren misdiagnosed or failed to diagnose the underlying medical condition until after Oct. 19, 1999," the complaint reads.

According to Wilma, Dr Boeren failed to diagnose a glioblastoma or other brain tumor, failed to perform appropriate CT or other studies to follow up on radiology reports of an expanded lesion, incorrectly informed Vern that his symptoms were related to a stroke or TIA, and failed to timely consult with appropriate specialists and failed to timely refer for oncology, surgical, or other specialist treatment.

She also claims Dr. Boeren failed to properly read the radiology tests, misrepresented the significance of his observations and failed to use the skill and care that is ordinarily used by reasonably qualified doctors in similar localities and similar cases and circumstances.

Wilma claims as a result of Boeren's alleged negligence, a cancerous brain tumor was allowed to develop and grow in her husband without adequate and proper treatment causing Vern to undergo an extended and unnecessary period of increasing pain, discomfort, and muscle and neurological deterioration and disability.

"Vern Abernathy suffered from the inability to conduct his life and social functions, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of family relations, and suffered from seizures which caused additional physical harm," the complaint alleges.

Wilma also claims Vern's delay in treatment caused him to become bed-ridden which led to additional problems including infections.

Wilma is represented by David Damick of St. Louis. Damick filed an affidavit stating that he could obtain a consultation by another doctor to evaluate the merits of the case because the statue of limitations would run.

She is seeking a judgment in excess of $100,000, plus costs.

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