An Illinois jury awarded $3 million to the family of an Arlington Heights woman who died during surgery to remove a benign uterine growth. A verdict was reached after a seven-day trial before Associate Judge Mary R. Minella. On Aug. 7, 2013, Mary Gerontakis, 35, underwent a hysteroscopic myomectomy at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights to treat noncancerous growths in her uterus. Gynecologist Michelle Mourot Luthringshausen, employed by WomanCare P.C., performed the procedure.
Gerontakis’ blood pressure dropped during the surgery, but Luthringshausen continued on instead of stopping to “correct the problem,” according to her family’s attorney, David J. Rashid of WiseMorrissey LLC of Chicago. The doctor waited nearly 30 minutes before responding to “significant changes” in Gerontaki’s blood pressure and heart rate.
Mary Gerontakis, 35, of northwest suburban Arlington Heights, an engineer for the Illinois Department of Transportation went for an elective uterine fibroid removal surgery on August 7, 2013. The procedure was supposed to proceed as a Hysteroscopic removal and then a laparoscopic portion. During the Hysteroscopic removal, Dr. Luthringshausen encountered a bloody surgical field and was required to switch surgical instruments. The required instrument was not in the room and needed to be further assembled. The surgeon then moved to a part of the laparoscopic portion before returning to complete the Hysteroscopic removal.
During the final 30-minutes of the surgery, Mary’s blood pressure dropped to critical lows. Her heart rate soon followed. By 9:55 am, Mary’s blood pressure, heart rate, and end-tidal CO2 were all warning of a potential problem. At 9:59 Mary suffered a cardiac arrest and died the next day from complications of that arrest. The cause of the arrest was determined to be an Air/Gas embolism. There is less than a .06% of air/gas embolism resulting in death during a Hysteroscopic procedure.
The warning signs, starting with a drop in blood pressure, should have been appreciated by the surgeon and the procedure should have been halted in order to assess the patient and determine the cause of the drop. When this did not occur, and the surgery continued, the other vital signs continued to warn of problems but went unheeded.
The warning signs were missed by Dr. Luthringshausen or she never made herself aware of the declining values.
The successful plaintiff lawyer is David Rashid, a medical malpractice, wrongful death and personal injury attorney with Wise Morrissey.