Hospital settles small intestine case for $15M.

By Pat Milhizer
Law Bulletin staff writer

A Cook County judge approved a $15 million settlement this week that a hospital agreed to pay to a 6-year-old boy who lost most of his small intestine and part of his colon after his birth, the boy’s attorney said.

Tyson McCarney was born in 2005 at Loyola University Medical Center after he was diagnosed with gastroschisis, a congenital birth defect that causes the intestine to protrude through the fetal abdominal wall and float freely in the womb.

According to the boy’s lawyer:
After McCarney’s birth, a pediatric surgeon returned the intestines to the proper spot and decided to delay the surgical closure of the abdomen.
The surgeon covered the abdominal defect and went on vacation for about 10 days. No experienced surgeon assessed McCarney during that time.
When the surgeon returned from vacation, he closed the abdominal defect but noticed that McCarney appeared to suffer from a “dead bowel.”

After additional surgeries, medical staff removed most of McCarney’s small intestine and a portion of his colon. The removal left him with a medical condition known as short bowel syndrome.

McCarney underwent several surgeries, including a successful intestine transplant when he was 18 months old.

He requires frequent hospital visits, medical monitoring and many medications. He can eat normally and receives supplemental nutrition with a tube that’s inserted into his stomach.

The suit alleges that Loyola physicians and staff performed an experimental and unnecessary surgery on McCarney after his birth and then failed to appropriately monitor him. The father alleged that the surgeon shouldn’t have immediately put the small intestine back in its place while McCarney was still attached to the umbilical cord.

As a result of the surgeon’s actions, the lawsuit alleges, McCarney’s abdomen experienced pressure that reduced blood flow to the abdominal organs and ultimately resulted in the loss of most of his small intestine.

The two sides reached the settlement after voluntary mediation sessions with Geoffrey L. Gifford of Pavalon & Gifford.

Because Loyola is self-insured, it will pay the entire settlement.

Peter D. Hoste and Tom Leahy of Leahy & Hoste represented McCarney.

Hoste commended Loyola and its attorneys for “recognizing the significance” of McCarney’s claim and agreeing to settle. He also said McCarney probably would have died if he didn’t undergo an intestine transplant, but McCarney still faces the possibility of complications from the transplant and medication side effects in the future.

“It’s a substantial settlement which I think reflects the difficulties he’s faced over the last 6 ½ years,” Hoste said. “And the money from the settlement will serve to help him enjoy his life going forward, which he’s really been unable to do.”

Hoste said the hospital denied negligence and alleged that McCarney’s intestine loss resulted from his congenital birth defect.

The hospital was represented by Gregory E. Schiller, Andrew J. Kovarik and Genevieve M. LeFevour of Johnson & Bell Ltd. Schiller couldn’t be reached for comment.

Circuit Judge Dennis J. Burke approved the settlement on Monday.

The case is Bradley A. Beach, etc. v. Loyola University Medical Center, et al. No. 08 L 4613.