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Mengelson v. Ingalls Health Ventures

May 22, 2001

CAROLYN MENGELSON, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
INGALLS HEALTH VENTURES, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County 95 L 2989 The Honorable Michael J. Kelly, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cousins

Not Released For Publication

CAROLYN MENGELSON, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
INGALLS HEALTH VENTURES, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County 95 L 2989 The Honorable Michael J. Kelly, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cousins

Plaintiff-appellant, Carolyn Mengelson, filed suit against defendant-appellee, Ingalls Health Ventures, alleging that defendant was negligent for failure to hire a competent and skilled phlebotomist for drawing blood and that as a direct and proximate result of the negligent acts, the plaintiff suffered injuries. At the close of plaintiff's case in chief, Ingalls Health Ventures moved for a directed verdict. The motion for directed verdict was granted. Plaintiff appeals from the order granting the motion for directed verdict. The major issue upon appeal is whether the trial court erred in granting defendant's motion for directed verdict.

 We affirm.

BACKGROUND

On February 23, 1993, plaintiff visited Ingalls Family Health Center (Ingalls) in Calumet City, Illinois, for an annual physical examination required by her employer. That physical included a routine blood draw.

Plaintiff testified at trial that during the physical examination, Theresa Chavez, a medical assistant for Ingalls, came into the room in which plaintiff was lying down to draw her blood. Chavez placed a tourniquet on plaintiff's left arm and supported plaintiff's elbow with her hand. Plaintiff testified that Chavez looked for a vein in her left arm but did not palpate for a vein before she inserted the needle. Chavez asked plaintiff whether it had always been difficult to find a vein on her arm. Plaintiff answered in the negative and asked Chavez to use her right arm.

Despite plaintiff's request, Chavez inserted the needle into plaintiff's left arm, but was unsuccessful in drawing blood on the first attempt. Plaintiff again asked Chavez to use her right arm for the blood draw. Plaintiff testified that Chavez then "backed the needle out and then injected it deeper into my skin and started poking and fanning around with the needle under my skin in a fanning-out type motion." Chavez still did not obtain blood from plaintiff. Plaintiff asked Chavez to switch to the right arm for the third time. Plaintiff stated that by Chavez's third attempt to draw blood from the left arm, she began to feel "nauseated because of the procedure." Plaintiff testified that as blood finally began to trickle into the vial, she felt a "sharp, stabbing pain" in her inner arm. Plaintiff stated that she told Chavez that she was in "excruciating" pain and asked her to stop, but Chavez said "'No, I think I'm getting it now.'" Chavez then removed the vial attached to the needle and attached a second vial. Plaintiff, again, asked her to stop but Chavez told her, "'If you can just hold still, it will only be a few more seconds.'"

When Chavez finally withdrew the needle, plaintiff still felt "excruciating" pain in her left arm. Plaintiff remained at Ingalls for about 45 to 60 minutes after the blood draw and was seen by a doctor. She told the doctor about her pain and the doctor told her that her arm was in a "spasm" but the medical assistant could not have gone deep enough to hit a nerve.

Plaintiff stated that she was nauseous the day following the blood draw and left work early due to the pain. Plaintiff called Ingalls at 6 p.m. on the evening of February 24, 1993, and notified it of her discomfort. She was advised to seek emergency treatment at an emergency clinic near her home. The emergency clinic gave the plaintiff pain medication and advised her to go to a hospital. Plaintiff's husband drove her to Edwards Hospital. The hospital gave plaintiff some additional pain medication and, because her injury was not considered an emergency, she made an appointment with a neurologist for the following morning.

Plaintiff testified that for weeks after the blood draw at Ingalls, she felt a "burning sensation under the skin like there's just like fire breathing under the skin" of her left arm. Plaintiff also complained of ...


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