Blindness could have been avoided if not for urinary tract infection diagnosis, says senior

Ann Knef Mar. 4, 2008, 7:40am

An active elderly woman who was diagnosed with a urinary traction at the Paris (Ill.) Community Hospital after complaining of double vision, painful eyes and a headache has filed a medical malpractice suit in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Juanita Tomlinson claims she suffered irreversible blindness following an episode of temporal arteritis that went untreated in the hospital's emergency room on June 7, 2006, according to the suit filed Feb. 26.

"...Tomlinson was a healthy senior citizen who was fully independent of all activities of daily living," the complaint states.

"Juanita lived on her own in her own house; Juanita held a valid Illinois driver's license and actively drove her car on a regular basis; Juanita's eyesight was very good for her age and fully corrected with her glasses, which she used mostly for reading; Juanita had an active social life she enjoyed, which included volunteer work at her church; and Juanita enjoyed seeing her children and grandchildren."

The complaint does not indicate Tomlinson's age.

Defendants include the hospital, located in Edgar County, nurse(s) Jane Doe, Gregory Lawson, M.D., and Midwest Emergency Department Services of O'Fallon.

According to the complaint, Tomlinson went to the hospital's emergency room on June 7, 2006, for treatment of vision problems.

"...[S]he voiced no complaints implicating any urinary tract problem, urination problem or irritation," the complaint states. "However, the 'Clinical Impression' or diagnosis, which the Defendants...made was urinary tract infection."

"There was no differential diagnosis made that in any way considered or addressed Juanita's chief complaints related to her vision problems and associated symptoms," the complaint states. "Nor was there any evaluation or consideration of a possible transient ischemic attack 'TIA' or of a cerebral vascular attack 'CVA' or temporal arteritis 'TA' to explain Juanita's primary symptoms."

The suit is brought by Tomlinson individually and by her healthcare guardian, her daughter, Deborah Groetken.

They claim that upon discharge from the hospital, the defendants prescribed an antibiotic to treat Tomlinson's urinary tract infection, "but carelessly failed to prescribe any type of medication to treat her TA, or possible CVA, or TIA, such as simple aspirin or other anti-platelet medication or steroid medication, and the Defendants advised Juanita to obtain follow up medical care the following week if her urinary tract condition did not improve."

Tomlinson is now blind and suffers from serious depression, the complaint states. Since June 2006 she has been living with and is dependent upon her daughter, it also states.

She is represented by Mark Peter Standa of Lake Forest, Ill.

"Juanita's life has been permanently and devastatingly ruined by becoming blind," the complaint states.

"She cannot see the smiles on her daughter's face or her grandchildrens' faces...Juanita has been deprived of her right to live out the twilight of her life in an independently functional manner with happiness and joy."

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