Wrongful death complaint says nurses failed to adequately treat patient who inhaled food

By Kelly Holleran | Aug 22, 2012


The husband of a recently deceased woman claims his wife died at a hospital after nurses failed to adequately treat her when she inhaled food.

Eugene A. Busekrus filed a lawsuit Aug. 2 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Protestant Memorial Medical Center doing business as Memorial Hospital of Belleville, Lisa A. Meisel, Tenika Heck, Memorial Medical Group, P.C. Associates doing business as Southern Illinois Hospitalist Group and Dr. Satyen Patel.

In his complaint, Eugene Busekrus alleges his wife, Rita Busekrus, was admitted to Memorial Hospital on Nov. 15 for back surgery. The surgery, which was performed on Nov. 16, went well, and Rita Busekrus was moved to Room 121 to recover, according to the complaint.

At about 6 p.m. on Nov. 17, Rita Busekrus's family came to the hospital to visit her, the suit states. They requested that her temperature be taken because she felt warm, the complaint says. Following the family's request, Meisel took the patient's temperature, which was measured at 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

The family then requested that Rita Busekrus's blood sugar be taken. Her blood sugar came back at 53, which is abnormally low, according to the complaint. Meisel then instructed Heck to provide Rita Busekrus with orange juice, the suit states.

"Shortly thereafter, Rita Busekrus, while sitting with the head of her bed elevated, vomited," the complaint says. "Nurse Lisa A. Meisel and PCT Tenika Heck knew that Rita Busekrus had vomited."

Meisel then ordered Heck to change Rita Busekrus's hospital gown, Eugene Busekrus claims.

Meanwhile, Rita Busekrus aspirated on her vomit, which occurs when a person inhales a foreign substance into his/her lungs, according to the complaint. She began coughing, but later her cough seemed to be subsiding, according to nurses' notes.

Nurses administered a second glucose test at 6:37 p.m., and Rita Busekrus's numbers came back at 187, the suit states. However, minutes after the glucose test, Rita Busekrus became lethargic, the complaint says.

"Shortly thereafter, Rita Busekrus began to have difficulty breathing," the suit states. "She became pale, unresponsive, her eyes rolled upward, and she had stridor. Nurse Lisa A. Meisel and PCT Tenika Heck stood by as Rita Busekrus became pale, unresponsive, her eyes rolled upward, and she suffered from stridor."

Nurses began CPR on Rita Busekrus at 6:45 p.m. after they called a "Code Blue," which is used when a patient requires resuscitation, Eugene Busekrus claims. Between 6:45 and 7:18 p.m., staff attempted to ventilate Rita Busekrus and to save her life, but failed in their endeavors, according to the complaint.

Before her death, Rita Busekrus suffered extreme emotional and physical pain and suffering and choked, the suit states.

Eugene Busekrus blames Meisel and Heck for contributing to his wife's death, saying they negligently failed to take precautions to protect Rita Busekrus's airway, failed to clear her airway, failed to recognize that she was having difficulty breathing and allowed Rita Busekrus to aspirate without taking preventative measures.

He also names Memorial Hospital, Southern Illinois Hospitalist Group and Dr. Patel as defendants, saying they negligently failed to have a code blue team available that could perform an emergency intubation on Rita Busekrus, failed to staff a code blue team with an experienced physician and failed to intubate Rita Busekrus in a timely manner.

In his four-count complaint, Eugene Busekrus seeks a judgment of more than $200,000, plus costs.

Brian L. Roberts of Roberts Law Firm in Carbondale will be representing him.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-399.

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