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April 14, 1994



Released for Publication June 7, 1994.

Johnson, Cahill, Hoffman

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Johnson

JUSTICE JOHNSON delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff filed this medical malpractice action in the circuit court of Cook County seeking damages for injuries he sustained from chemotherapy treatment administered by defendant. Following trial, the jury returned a verdict in defendant's favor and the trial court entered judgment thereon. Plaintiff appeals contending (1) the trial court improperly excluded certain evidence; (2) he was denied a fair trial based on defense counsel's closing argument; and (3) the verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence.

We reverse and remand.

Plaintiff, Vincent James Grandi, originally brought this action against several defendants, including Little Company of Mary Hospital, hospital receptionist Carol Stancato and hospital nurse Ethel Misuraca. Prior to trial, however, all defendants except defendant, Dr. Prabodh Shah, entered a settlement agreement with plaintiff and were dismissed from the suit. Plaintiff's action proceeded to trial solely against Dr. Shah, and the following evidence was presented.

In August 1982, plaintiff underwent surgery at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, Illinois (hereinafter the hospital), to have a cancerous tumor removed from his stomach. Thereafter, plaintiff's doctor, Dr. Albert Guzman, referred him to defendant for additional anti-cancer treatment. Defendant met with plaintiff in November 1982 and recommended radiation therapy and chemotherapy. After receiving 30 radiation treatments, plaintiff met with defendant who administered 3 chemotherapy treatments, the last of which occurred on February 10, 1983, and which also gave rise to this litigation.

On February 10, 1983, plaintiff went to defendant's office at the hospital where defendant intravenously treated him with three chemotherapy drugs. Defendant first administered Adriamycin and Oncovin, also known as vesicants, because they cause burning sensations and destroy tissue if they extravasate the vein. Extravasation, a recognized complication of chemotherapy, often occurs when chemotherapy medications are not properly administered. Defendant also administered Cytoxin, a non-vesicant.

At trial, plaintiff testified that on February 10, 1983, defendant left him alone in the treatment room after administering the vesicants. About 20 seconds later, plaintiff experienced burning sensations in his left wrist and called for help. Hospital receptionist, Carol Stancato, entered the treatment room and stated that everything was fine. Thereafter, defendant returned to the treatment room and stated that the needle came out of plaintiff's vein, and that the nurse should have stayed with plaintiff.

Plaintiff further testified that when he left defendant's office later that afternoon, he noticed a red spot had developed on his wrist. Plaintiff stated that his arm was reddened and swollen and he endured great pain the rest of the day. On February 12, 1983, plaintiff went to the emergency room at the hospital where Dr. Guzman examined his red and swollen wrist. Four days later, plaintiff was readmitted to the hospital for 35 days, during which time he underwent numerous surgeries for the injuries to his wrist.

Plaintiff's wife, Marie Grandi, and his daughter, Michelle Connelly each testified at trial that on the afternoon of February 10, 1983, they observed plaintiff's left arm to be red and swollen. Likewise, plaintiff's neighbor, Mary McGrath, testified that she saw plaintiff that same afternoon. According to Ms. McGrath, plaintiff's left arm was red and he appeared to be in pain.

Dr. Albert Guzman testified at trial that he performed surgery on plaintiff's stomach in August 1982. He stated that when he examined plaintiff on February 12, 1983, in the hospital emergency room, plaintiff was in pain and the area around his left wrist was swollen and red. Dr. Guzman further testified that during a conversation he had with defendant on or about February 17, 1983, defendant stated that the needle had accidentally come out of plaintiff's vein thereby causing plaintiff's injuries. According to Dr. Guzman, defendant admitted that the vesicants had extravasated.

Dr. James Schlenker, a plastic surgeon, testified at trial that he examined plaintiff at the hospital on or about March 14, 1983. Dr. Schlenker observed severe redness on plaintiff's forearm and opined that it was caused by the extravasation of Adriamycin. He later performed surgery on the injuries caused by the extravasation, and also for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and a triggering in plaintiff's left index finger, both of which resulted from the extravasation injury. According to Dr. ...

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