$4.5 Million Settlement in Illinois Failure to Diagnose Case

Every month the Illinois Trial Lawyer’s Association publishes the “Vested Interest” newsletter that shares information on the organization’s efforts. In addition, some legal stories are shared, including the outcome of some particularly noteworthy cases. Some of the discussed cases are similar to those on which our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys work.

For example, one recent Illinois medical malpractice case was discussed where a settlement was reached for $4.5 million. The case involved a 72-year old DePaul University professor. The plaintiff allegedly became paralyzed because of an undiagnosed spinal infection. The woman is now in a wheelchair as a result of the error, but she works hard to continue teaching students at the University.

The teacher allegedly went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital with complaints of neck pain. She explained that the pain was radiating throughout her back. An MRI was performed. It revealed that she had experienced a “degenerative arthritic changes in her spine.” She was admitted to the hospital.

Unfortunately, her condition deteriorated while at the hospital. She contracted a “staphylococcus auraus infection at the site of the IV tube in her arm. The infection was noticed by doctors, who gave her an antibiotic treatment. However, no further testing was conducted to ensure that the infection was properly handled and that there were not any other problems. This would prove to be a costly error. According to the summary of the case in the newsletter, the infection “seeded into her spine” where the arthritis was located.

The woman was discharged from the hospital. A few weeks later she suffered a serious fall at home. An MRI after the fall revealed that she had “an extensive, epidural abscess of her spine.” The asbscess was located at the base of her neck. The infection had caused serious damage. It eroded her bone and destroyed nerves in her spinal column. This damage could not be undone, and the woman lost control of her legs, maintaining only limited use of her arms and hands.

Eventually the patient contacted an Illinois medical malpractice lawyer to investigate the circumstances of the contraction and spreading of the infection. A lawsuit was filed alleging that the medical professionals at the hospital were negligent in failing to take more aggressive steps to ensure the infection-which she contracted at the hospital-did not spread throughout her body and cause problems. Their failure led directly to the problems which ultimately caused paralysis. Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation were named in the suit.

Fortunately, the parties in the case were able to reach agreement without the need to go through trial. The defendants agreed to settle the case for $4.5 million.

Medical malpractice involving omissions and advancing medical complications are far too common. Failure on the part of medical professionals to take appropriate action is likely more common than errors caused by overt acts. Local residents should remember that the civil law provides them an avenue to seek compensation when they are harmed by the misconduct of medical professionals. It is often difficult to understand if negligence was or was not part of one’s medical treatment. A legal professional can provide more guidance.

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