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Regala v. Rush North Shore Medical Center

March 30, 2001

ROWENA REGALA AND ROBERTO REGALA, AS NEXT FRIENDS OF RYAN T. REGALA, A MINOR, AND ROWENA AND ROBERTO REGALA, INDIV., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
RUSH NORTH SHORE MEDICAL CENTER, A CORPORATION, ARLENE BOYLE, AND ROSE MONAHAN, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES (BERNARD MICHAEL NAGEL, AND WOMEN'S HEALTH CONSULTANTS, S.C., A CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 94 L 16617 Honorable Irwin J. Solganick, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice O'brien

Released for publication September 7, 2001.

ROWENA REGALA AND ROBERTO REGALA, AS NEXT FRIENDS OF RYAN T. REGALA, A MINOR, AND ROWENA AND ROBERTO REGALA, INDIV., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
RUSH NORTH SHORE MEDICAL CENTER, A CORPORATION, ARLENE BOYLE, AND ROSE MONAHAN, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES (BERNARD MICHAEL NAGEL, AND WOMEN'S HEALTH CONSULTANTS, S.C., A CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS).

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 94 L 16617 Honorable Irwin J. Solganick, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice O'brien

As amended August 10, 2001.

Modified Upon Denial of Rehearing

Plaintiffs, Rowena and Roberto Regala, brought a medical malpractice action individually and on behalf of their infant son, Ryan Regala, against defendants, Rush North Shore Medical Center (the hospital), Arlene Boyle, R.N., Rose Monahan, R.N., Doctor Bernard Michael Nagel and Women's Health Consultants (WHC). A jury verdict was rendered in favor of all defendants. The circuit court denied plaintiffs' posttrial motion regarding nurse Boyle, nurse Monahan, and the hospital (hereinafter collectively referred to as defendants), but remanded for a new trial as to Doctor Nagel and WHC, based upon their untimely withdrawal of a disclosed expert witness. On appeal, plaintiffs argue that the court erred by: (1)denying their motion for a new trial against defendants; (2) refusing to give certain jury instructions; (3) allowing the hospital's expert to give previously undisclosed Supreme Court Rule 213(g) (177 Ill. 2d R. 213(g)) opinion testimony; (4) barring questions about a Christmas party attended by defendant Monahan; and (5) denying plaintiffs' motion for sanctions. We reverse, and remand for a new trial.

Plaintiff received prenatal care from Doctor Nagel, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist. On December 19, 1990, six days after her expected due date, plaintiff experienced abdominal discomfort and saw bright red blood in her panty liner. Plaintiff called Doctor Nagel, who sent her to the hospital for a non-stress test (NST) to establish fetal well-being.

On December 19, plaintiff arrived at the hospital, where nurse Boyle attached plaintiff to an external fetal monitor to do the NST. By 11 a.m., nurse Boyle charted her NST impressions, which were normal and reassuring of fetal well-being.

Nurse Boyle took plaintiff's blood pressure, which was 142/102. Plaintiff's 142/102 blood pressure was elevated and abnormal and placed her at risk for preeclampsia and placental abruption. Doctor Nagel testified that he asked nurse Boyle on December 19 whether plaintiff was doing okay, and that nurse Boyle responded "yes." Nurse Boyle testified that she would not have stated that plaintiff was doing okay unless she had retaken plaintiff's blood pressure and determined that it was normal. However, plaintiff's chart reflects only the 142/102 blood pressure.

Doctor Nagel performed a vaginal exam on plaintiff on December 19; no apparent, active bleeding was found during the exam. Doctor Nagel discharged plaintiff and instructed her to "follow-up" on December 20.

At noon on December 20, Doctor Nagel examined plaintiff in his office. During the exam, plaintiff's blood pressure was 164/98. This was the first time in plaintiff's pregnancy that Doctor Nagel was aware of a significantly elevated blood pressure. Nagel also found a trace of protein in plaintiff's urine. Plaintiff's elevated blood pressure and the protein in her urine indicated that plaintiff was at risk for preeclampsia.

At 12:20 p.m. on December 20, Doctor Nagel admitted plaintiff to the hospital's labor and delivery unit, where she came under the care of nurse Monahan. Nurse Monahan testified that she did not have time to look at plaintiff's prenatal chart prior to her arrival at the hospital.

Nurse Monahan took plaintiff's blood pressure, which was now 163/97. Nurse Monahan performed a urine test, which showed an abnormal amount of protein, another indicator of preeclampsia. Nurse Monahan applied the fetal monitor to plaintiff and determined that the fetus lacked good heart accelerations, perhaps because it was sleeping. To wake the fetus, nurse Monahan gave ...


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