In an historic verdict for Williamson County, Illinois, a jury capped off 2013 by awarding more than $2.4 million in the case of a nurse who was negligently treated at local Carbondale Memorial Hospital. The verdict is reported to be the second largest in county history. The highest medical malpractice award in Williamson history is $1.05 billion in the case of Avery v. State Farm. The $2.4 million figure accounts for all actual damages assessed by the Williamson jury. Illinois law does not allow for punitive damages. While the verdict came almost six years after Ms. Yates passed away, it took the jury a mere two hours to come back with its award for in the favor of Ms. Yates’ family.
In this most recent, sad case, Ramona Yates died in March 2007 after emergency room doctors failed to properly diagnose the symptoms Ms. Yates experienced. Ms. Yates, who died at 47 years old, was herself a nurse. She went to the hospital one night with horrible pain in her abdomen and back, which is believed to be a byproduct of gastric bypass surgery, which Ms. Yates underwent a couple of years before her death. Such pains are known to strike recipients of gastric bypass. In this particular case, Ms. Yates’ pain was due to a bowel obstruction which went unnoticed until it was too late. Tragically, an emergency room doctor “did not order more tests, seek other medical consultation or have [the patient] transported to another hospital. Instead, he sent her to the observation ward to be treated for back spasms,” as reported by The Madison-St. Clair Record.
This case is a sobering reminder of the risks associated with medical care, and serves as an example of the type of medical malpractice case where a provider makes a misdiagnosis, a fails to properly diagnose a condition, or delays in making the correct diagnosis. In the latter scenario, it will often be too late to correct the mistake, and someone could be permanently injured or not survive their condition or injuries. What adds to the pain of injury or losing a loved one is the fact that this tragic result was in all likelihood avoidable and preventable if the doctor had operated at the level of the standard of care required of a medical provider in that situation.