In 2012, one week after giving birth to her fourth child, Chenille Condon was called back to the St. Alexius Hospital for a biopsy on her inflamed lymph nodes by Dr. Allen Michael Booth. The lymph nodes, located in the middle of her chest and in-between her lungs, called for a mediastinoscopy. During the procedure Dr. Booth made a nearly fatal error when he severed Condon’s major artery. According to the malpractice lawsuit, filed nearly three years ago by Condon’s attorneys, the incident caused their client to suffer from a stroke and permanent brain damage. Last month, after a two-week trial in Burleigh Country, the North Dakota jury agreed and awarded Condon $3.5 million.
The lawsuit also claims that Booth performed the biopsy before receiving the results of lab tests that would later show that the inflamed lymph nodes were from a treatable fungal infection and not cancer. These results would have informed Dr. Booth that a mediastinoscopy was unnecessary. When Booth accidentally cut Condon’s innominate artery, which pumps blood to the brain, a second surgeon stepped in to help Booth stop the bleeding. Immediately after the surgery, while in recovery, Condon suffered a major stroke causing partial paralysis, blurred vision, and brain damage. Condon has regained the ability to walk, but she still has trouble moving some of her left side.
“It was a very tragic medical error that took away Ms. Condon’s upward trajectory in life,” said one of her attorneys. “It’s such a large artery, you should never miss it.”
Condon, 35 years-of-age, is slated to receive $2 million for future and past economic losses. She was also awarded $1.5 million for future and past non-economic losses, but the state of North Dakota limits non-economic payouts to $500,000. In addition, lawyers representing the defendants said that they are “reviewing our legal options moving forward,” and may appeal the verdict. Dr. Booth, who was found negligent of severing Condon’s artery, was cleared of charges that he did not adequately educate Condon in terms of the potential risks of the mediastinoscopy.
According to a statement from CHI St. Alexius Health, “As an organization, we fully support Dr. Booth. Providing patients with the very best care is our highest priority each day. We are committed to the people and community we serve.”