St. Louis doctor named in med mal complaint over patient's use of Warfarin

Andrea Dearden Oct. 19, 2010, 3:30am

A Highland woman claims a St. Louis doctor's negligence is to blame for a stroke that left her with permanent brain damage.

Cheryl A. Unterreiner and her husband, Kim, filed a lawsuit against Dr. David J. Pernikoff on Oct. 6 in Madison County Circuit Court.

Cheryl says she was under Dr. Pernikoff's care in 2002 when she had an aortic valve replaced with a mechanical one. She says Dr. Pernifkoff prescribed Warfarin as an anticoagulant, which is measured by an international normalized ratio (INR).

In April 2008 Cheryl says her INR levels fell below normal, putting her in danger of developing a blood clot that could lead to a stroke. Six months later, Cheryl says her INR levels were again way below normal.

According to the complaint, Dr. Pernikoff increased Cheryl's dosage of Warfarin but failed to see her in his office to monitor the effects of the drug.

In October 2008 Cheryl says her INR levels remained below normal and, as a direct result, says she suffered a stroke in her home. After being moved to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, her condition allegedly worsened and she suffered an intracranial hemorrhage which led to brain stem herniation. Cheryl says the injury has affected many parts of her body, causing memory loss, decreased motor control, emotional control issues. She can also no longer speak clearly.

The Unterreiners are suing Dr. Pernikoff and his professional corporation for negligence for failing to adequately monitor and control the Warfarin dosage. They are asking for an unspecified amount of money for lost wages, medical expenses and court costs. Kim is also suing for the cost of caring for his wife and the loss of her companionship.

The Unterreiners ask for a jury trial and are represented by Drew C. Baebler of St. Louis.

Madison County Circuit Court Case No. 10-L-1038

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