Unsuccessful needle sticks contributed to patient's death, suit claims

Kelly Holleran Sep. 9, 2008, 3:54am

Augustus Thornton has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of his recently deceased wife against Dr. Stephen P. Striegel and four other medical providers, alleging his wife died after surgery.

According to the complaint filed Sept. 4 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, Striegel performed the surgery on Charlene Thornton in September 2006.

Augustus alleges Striegel was negligent because he failed to exercise proper care when he was performing the central venous access procedure by repeatedly making unsuccessful, deeply-penetrating needle stick attempts to find the subclavian vein.

He alleges that during one of the sticks, Charlene had an aspiration of arterial blood, and Striegel should have known that would have caused an increased risk to Charlene.

Augustus also alleges Charlene had a weakened and vulnerable blood condition at the time of the procedure, and Striegel was aware of it.

In addition, Augustus alleges the doctor failed to diagnose Charlene's punctured left common carotid artery after the procedure.

The complaint says the doctor failed to timely evaluate and did not hurry the processing, retrieval and evaluation of a chest x-ray performed on Charlene Sept. 22, 2006.

Augustus also claims the doctor failed to follow the recommendations of the radiologist, Dr. Levisay, in a timely manner.

In addition, Augustus claims the doctor did not order, refer or render an appropriate treatment for Charlene and did not monitor her condition.

He claims as a result of the negligence of Striegel, his wife suffered permanent pain, mental anguish, disfigurement, and died Sept. 22, 2006.

Her next-of-kin are permanently deprived of her love, companionship, society and support, the complaint states.

Augustus claims Charlene's family has been responsible for substantial amounts of medical costs.

Augustus claims SPS Surgical Services, Southern Illinois Surgical Company, Illinois Oncology and St. Elizabeth's Hospital of the Hospital of the Third Order of St. Francis were negligent because they provided staff who failed to apply skills used by reasonably well-qualified health care providers.

He also claims St. Elizabeth's Hospital of the Hospital of the Third Order of St. Francis was negligent because its surgeons failed to transport Charlene form the operating room in a timely manner, failed to observe her condition, failed to notify physicians of any changes in her condition, failed to follow doctor's order and did not supervise postoperative transportation of Charlene.

Augustus claims the hospital did not hire competent workers, failed to comply with standards and failed to employ proper policies.

In the 10-count suit, Augustus is seeking a judgment in excess of $750,000, plus costs.

Bruce D. Bramoweth of St. Louis will represent Augustus.

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