St. Elizabeth's, doctors named in med mal complaint

Kelly Holleran Mar. 17, 2011, 12:19pm

The husband of a recently deceased woman has filed suit against St. Elizabeth's Hospital of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis and Belleville Family Medical Associates and three of their doctors, alleging they failed to properly treat his wife.

Victor J. Allen claims his wife, Catherine A. Allen, arrived at St. Elizabeth's on Feb. 9, 2009, with complaints of severe neck pain. At the hospital, Catherine Allen was seen by defendant Dr. Ricardo Garchitorena, who soon discharged her despite her history of diabetes and renal failure, according to the complaint filed March 3 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

On Feb. 12, 2009, Catherine A. Allen again arrived at the hospital, this time via ambulance, with complaints of pain throughout her body, weakness, abnormal vital signs, hyperventilating and lacking the ability to take fluids, the suit states.

During her second trip to the hospital, Allen was seen by defendant Dr. Kristy Waeltz, who also quickly discharged her from the hospital, the complaint says.

Immediately following her discharge, Catherine A. Allen approached her primary care physician, defendant Melinda Walker, for help. Victor Allen claims Walker noticed the distress and extreme pain of his wife and gave her a prescription for Vicodin, Valium and ordered an MRI of her spine.

Still, Catherine Allen was not satisfied and visited St. Elizabeth's again the following day where she was diagnosed with pneumonia. Catherine Allen's pneumonia caused insufficient amounts of oxygen to be delivered to her brain, according to the complaint. In turn, she suffered an anoxic brain injury, placing her in a vegetative state, the suit states.

Hospice Care began to treat Catherine Allen, who died on March 13, 2009, the complaint says.

Because of his wife's death, Victor Allen claims he has incurred funeral, burial and medical costs and has lost his wife's services, society, companionship, consortium, love and support. He has also suffered grief, sorrow and mental suffering, according to the complaint.

In his complaint, Victor Allen alleges wrongful death against the defendants, saying they failed to take a complete and appropriate history of Catherine Allen. In addition, the defendants negligently failed to appreciate the significance of Catherine Allen's injury, her abnormal vital signs and her complaints; failed to admit her to the hospital; and failed to properly diagnose her condition, according to the complaint.

In his four-count complaint, Victor Allen is seeking a judgment of more than $200,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

Matthew R. Davis of Heller, Gallagher and Enley in St. Louis will be representing him.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-120.

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