Cavanaugh v. Dwamena

Patient 39 Dies After Delayed Diagnosis

Dr. John H. Fullerton served as a key forensic expert witness in the 2008 wrongful death lawsuit and subsequent jury trial of Cavanaugh, et al. v. Dwamena, et al.

SparrowDr. Fullerton testified for the claimant in a case related to the delay in diagnosis and effective medical treatment at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, MI by the numerous physicians and sub-specialists (due to a "complete system and communication breakdown" surrounding the treating hospitalist and between the sub-specialists) to Patrick Cavanaugh, a formerly vigorous 39 year old construction worker who presented to the Michigan State University Training program in 2003 with a serious febrile illness contracted from the Ohio River Valley (disruption of the soil) presumably while at work for over 11 days.

Patrick Cavanaugh's estate and survivors filed a wrongful death lawsuit and were awarded $9.1 million in damages by the jury. Of note, this verdict turned out to be the largest Plaintiff Medical-Malpractice verdict delivered in the State of Michigan for at least 2 years running and was big news for its time as the word spread to Chicago and throughout the Mid-West.

Per Dr. Fullerton, "Incredibly, in this modern-day, academic-style training program [as an Affiliate of MSU], this high risk patient with medication-induced immuno-suppression (Patrick was being treated for rheumatoid arthritis and on a medication regime known to compromise one's immune system, in particular, Remicade, which tests had shown could increase a patient's likelihood of developing life-threatening infections such as Histoplasmosis), was never properly diagnosed as a classic case of endemic disseminated Histoplasmosis and properly treated for cure, while the patient was on the med-surgery ward taking this high risk [Black Box] medication."

According to Matthew G. Curtis who represented the decedent's estate, one of the treating physicians was aware of the dangers of Remicade, because in October 2001 he had received a warning letter from Remicade's manufacturer alerting doctors to the potential dangers. However, the Remicade/rheumatoid cocktail was continued and only served to increase the patient's risk for disseminated Histoplasmosis as specifically reported in the Package Insert [PI].

Patrick Cavanaugh was never treated with any antibiotic, antifungal or antiviral medications during the first nine days of his admission. By the time he received any medication, his systems had begun to fail and he was beyond saving.

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