Madison - St. Clair Record

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Doctor and practice seek to dismiss East Alton woman’s medical malpractice case

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Aug 18, 2015


A physician and his practice seek to dismiss a patient’s lawsuit claiming they put off an emergency lumbar surgery for too long.

Rita Ford of East Alton filed her May 8 complaint against Drs. Theodore L. Vander Velde and Guy Aton, as well as Midwest Radiological Associates and BJC Medical Group of Illinois.

According to the complaint, Ford claims she woke up at home on Oct. 25, 2013, with “incapacitating low back pain and discomfort.” She claims she couldn’t walk due to weakness and pain. She alleges “numbness and a tingling sensation” stretched from her feet to her lower back.

After an ambulance took her to Alton Memorial Hospital, family members asked emergency room personnel to perform a lumbar MRI, but they were allegedly told that her own doctor would have to order it, the suit states.

Three days later, Ford claims she met with Aton at his practice and was still experiencing the same symptoms.

Aton allegedly prescribed pain medication but ordered no neurosurgical consultation. He did, however, order an MRI, the lawsuit states.

The next day, Ford’s MRI was forwarded back to Aton by Vander Velde. Ford alleges her family contacted Aton to inform him that her pain medication was not working, so he allegedly prescribed her higher dosages but still didn’t order a consult, the complaint states.

Then on Nov. 25, Ford claims she went to a neurosurgeon at St. Luke’s Hospital, who reviewed the MRI. The next day, the neurosurgeon allegedly performed emergency lumbar surgery to repair what was learned to be an epidural abscess.

Ford recovered for a week at St. Luke’s, then went through two rehabilitation facilities until finally cleared for released on Feb. 19, 2014, the suit states.

Velde and Midwest Radiological Associates answered the complaint on Aug. 3 through attorneys Jeffrey Glass and Jason Winslow of Hinshaw & Culbertson in Belleville. The defendants argued that the alleged injuries were the result of “independent, intervening cause of which these defendants had no control and which were not known or reasonably foreseeable by these defendants.”

Aton and Fairview Heights Medical Group filed a motion to dismiss on June 15 through attorneys James E. Neville and Matthew C. Zittel of Neville Richards & Wuller in Belleville. They argue that the plaintiff failed to provide a mandatory written report from a physician concluding there is a reasonable cause for filing the complaint.

The defendants claim “the healthcare report filed by plaintiff merely concludes that defendant was negligent by rendering care a certain way. The report does not provide sufficient details that clearly describe the bases and reasons for the author’s conclusion.”

Ford seeks unspecified damages, plus costs, in excess of the court’s minimum jurisdictional limit.

The plaintiff is represented by Paul W. Johnson and Robert W. Schneider II in St. Louis.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 15-L-582

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Organizations in this Story

Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP Neville, Richards & Wuller

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