Davis Levin Livingston’s partners Thomas Otake and Matt Winter received a 1.8 million dollar verdict in a medical malpractice trial in December on behalf of the family of Janna Chung who died as a result of a scope procedure that caused her to aspirate the contents of her stomach that resulted in her death. The verdict came after only two hours of deliberation in the no offer case.
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional performs an action that a competent practitioner would not have done, or fails to do what a competent practitioner would have done—resulting in injury or death for their patient.
A Doctor’s Failure to Act
Sadly, this is what happened to Janna Chung when she sought the medical expertise of Dr. Mihae Yu, a surgeon.
Janna, a 69-year-old woman with a history of colon cancer and small bowel obstruction, died as a result of Dr. Yu’s failure to treat her small bowel obstruction correctly.
In March 2016, Janna stayed in the hospital for five days for a case of small bowel obstruction that caused food to back up into her intestines and stomach, causing intense pain, vomiting, and dehydration. During her stay, Dr. Yu decided to drain three liters of fluid from Janna’s stomach in the belief that this would allow the bowel to decompress and relieve the obstruction. Dr. Yu did not perform a follow-up CT scan to ensure this resolved the issue.
In the next few days, Janna returned to Dr. Yu with worsening symptoms. Dr. Yu directed Janna to the ER and to a gastroenterologist, all without performing the necessary CT scan which would have confirmed that Janna’s obstruction had not, in fact, resolved.
During this time, Dr. Yu asked the gastroenterologist to perform an endoscopy to check Janna’s stomach. Any competent medical practitioner would have known that patients suspected of having a bowel obstruction should not receive this procedure, since testing and stomach drainage must be completed before a scope can be inserted.
When Janna’s doctors decided to continue with the endoscopy, Janna vomited and aspirated the vomit into her lungs. This directly led to her death the following day.
The Consequences of Medical Malpractice
Janna and her family’s terrible experience demonstrates the immense responsibility that doctors owe to their patients, and the potentially catastrophic consequences that may happen when doctors fail in this fundamental duty.
When Janna’s only surviving adult son came to us with this case, we made it our mission to hold Dr. Yu accountable for her negligence that led to Janna’s untimely death. On December 13, 2019, a Circuit Court returned a $1.8 million verdict on behalf of Janna and her family. While we know this verdict cannot erase the incredible harm that has been done to Janna and her family, we do hope that obtaining justice against Dr. Yu will help Janna’s loved ones move on from this terrible experience in peace.