Patient claims he suffered second head injury falling from stretcher

Andrea Dearden Aug. 2, 2012, 1:20am


A former patient says a Belleville hospital is to blame for head trauma he allegedly endured after being allowed to fall out of a stretcher while being treated in the emergency room.

Gordon J. Abegg, by and through his next friend and power of attorney, Catherine Langford, filed a lawsuit July 19 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against St. Elizabeth's Hospital of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, doing business as St. Elizabeth Hospital. Midwest Emergency Department Services Inc. is also named as a defendant.

On July 23, 2010, Abegg was at home when he tripped and fell and hit his head on a television table, according to the complaint. The following day, he says he drove himself to the St. Elizabeth's UrgiCare Center in O'Fallon where he reported having "acute onset of confusion, slight blurred vision but no loss of conciousness." Staff allegedly noted the patient's unsteady gait and were concerned about his condition.

Abegg says he was driven by ambulance to the Emergency Department at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville. He says he was confused and disoriented but initial CT scans and lab tests were normal. While being examined in the ER, Abegg says he fell out of the stretcher and hit his head.

A second head CT scan shortly after the alleged fall showed "a new, acute subdural hemotoma accompianed by an 8 mm midline shift of the brain," according to the petition. Abegg says he immediately underwent surgery to relieve pressure caused by bleeding in his brain. He says he has experienced pain and suffering, additional surgeries, physical and mental disability, prolonged hospitalizations, a worsening of his overall medical condition and a lowering of his life expectancy since the fall.

Abegg accuses both defendants of vicarious liability and insitutional negligence. He says they are liable for his injuries and ask they each be ordered to pay more than $100,000 in damages.

Attorney Craig J. Jensen of SL Chapman in St. Louis represents Abegg. They demand a jury trial.

St. Clair County Circuit Court Case No. 12-L-367

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