Alton Memorial denies liability in medical malpractice lawsuit involving brain-damaged patient

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Mar 23, 2015

An Alton hospital accused of causing a patient to become brain-damaged when it allegedly failed to monitor his vital signs has denied liability in the case.

According to the Dec. 12 complaint, Madelyn Charnas alleges her husband, James Charnas, was admitted to Alton Memorial hospital on Jan. 1, 2013, with a fistula and bowel obstruction.

“Throughout his stay, James Charnas was on oxygen and on Jan. 17, 2013, Charnas was receiving Dilaudid per PCA pump,” the suit states. “At that time he had been complaining of weakness and not being able to eat over the previous two days.”

On Jan. 18, 2013, Charnas appeared drowsy, weak and confused, the complaint says. Madelyn Charnas alleges her husband also was suffering from garbled speech and disorientation. As a result, James Charnas was transferred to ICU and was seen by two doctors regarding his altered mental state.

He eventually was discharged from the hospital but was diagnosed with brain damage allegedly due to the Dilaudid he had been receiving via the pump. He currently lives in a nursing home full time and requires constant nursing care, the suit states.

Because of the incident, Charnas incurred medical costs, experienced severe pain and suffering, lost his enjoyment of life and continues to receive medical treatment, the complaint states.

Madelyn Charnas blames the hospital for causing her husband’s injuries, saying it negligently failed to properly monitor him, failed to seek an order for continuous pulse oximetry, failed to take her husband’s vital signs and failed to properly program the PCA pump.

Alton Memorial denied the allegations inits Jan. 20 answer, arguing that any alleged damages “were not directly or proximately caused by any act or omission of defendant, but were the result of some conduct other than defendant’s conduct …”

The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages, plus costs.

Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian scheduled a case management conference for May 27 at 9 a.m.

Erin M. Philips of Unsell, Schattnik and Phillips in Wood River represents the plaintiff.

Theodore J. MacDonald Jr. and Dawne K. Zupanci of HeplerBroom in Edwardsville represent Alton Memorial. The defendant requests a jury trial.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 14-L-1691

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