Problems with tracheotomy caused blindness, suit claims

By Kelly Holleran | Feb 19, 2013


In recently filed court documents, a man says he became blind after doctors failed to properly care for his tracheotomy.

Clarence McKinzie Jr. filed a lawsuit Jan. 17 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Drs. Ajay Mangal, Khaja Mohsin, Maripat Gatter, Jeffrey Shafer and Kathryn MacDonald and Protestant Memorial Medical Center doing business as Memorial Hospital of Belleville and Belleville Emergency Physicians.

In his complaint, McKinzie alleges he received a tracheostomy on May 8, 2011, to treat a growth on his neck that had impeded his ability to speak, swallow and breathe. A tracheostomy is a procedure in which doctors place a hole in a patient’s neck. From there, doctors will usually insert a tube into the opening to provide air to the windpipe.

However, several of Mangal’s attempts to place the tube into McKinzie’s neck failed, causing him to be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Memorial Hospital of Belleville on May 10, 2011, according to the complaint. There, McKinzie suffered from a mucus plug, which led to respiratory arrest and hypoxic encephalopathy, which is brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, the suit states.

Because of his brain damage, McKinzie suffered blindness and severe motor deficits, the complaint says. He claims he has also become permanently prevented from attending to his usual affairs and duties, lost wages and incurred medical costs.

McKinzie blames Gatter, Shafer, Mangal and Mohsin for contributing to his injuries, saying they negligently failed to properly evaluate his neck mass, failed to properly treat the growth and failed to admit McKinzie to the hospital.

In addition, McKinzie says defendants Mangal, Mohsin and MacDonald failed to properly intubate him following he tracheostomy.

In his seven-count complaint, McKinzie is seeking a judgment of more than $500,000, plus costs.

Thomas Q. Keefe Jr. of Keefe and Keefe in Belleville will be representing him.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 13-L-31.

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