Hospitalized Man’s Life Support Decision Made by the Wrong Family
On May 13, 2019, a social worker from Mercy Hospital was busy making calls and seeking relatives of a patient identified by Chicago police as Alfonso Bennet. The man had been hospitalized in the ICU after being severely beaten. He required a ventilator to breathe and was nearly unrecognizable to his supposed sisters, who soon came to visit and make critical medical decisions on his behalf, such as removing him from life support.
Soon after family members permitted doctors to perform a tracheotomy, the man did pass away, and his alleged sisters made funeral arrangements. It was then that the real Alfonso Bennet was found still alive and the now deceased man identified by police became a mystery.
Although several family members of Bennet say the hospitalized man acknowledged to questions by raising his hand, it was difficult to communicate or even identify him on their own, and they remained dependent on what police and medical professionals had told them.
As a result, a family had to make difficult decisions for someone who was not known to them, leaving the police to search for his real relatives and launching a serious investigation.
A Mistaken Identity or Negligent Error by Police and Hospital?
Chicago police had identified the man through mugshots rather than fingerprints possibly due to the department’s budgetary restraints. Some law officials also argue that they do not usually take fingerprints unless someone commits a crime or not until that person has passed. It is unsure what the hospital’s policy on rightfully identifying a John Doe is before end-of-life medical decisions can be made.
Our attorneys believe this is not a regular occurrence and likely could have been prevented and should be investigated further. If negligence was made based on a police department’s financial viability or inadequate hospital protocols, accountability must be owned.
Deadly Medical Mistakes
A bit different than this unique situation, medical mistakes including those stemming from the wrong patient’s identity, can create some of the most common medical miscues and impact more than 200,000 victims of medical malpractice each year and kill as many as 98,000. While acts may be unintentional, there should never be an excuse.
Working with Chicago’s Most Reputable Legal Team
Levin & Perconti understand that families may not know where to turn after the sudden or unexpected loss of a loved one. When choosing an attorney, especially for sensitive cases involving mistaken identity, it is crucial that you look for a law firm that has both the experience and resources needed to litigate even the most complex lawsuits.
If you would like to speak to a Chicago lawyer about your potential case, call us at 312-332-2872 or 877-374-1417 or connect with us via our free online personal injury case evaluation form. Our attorneys are happy to discuss legal options with you in a free and confidential consultation, and you will never pay a fee unless we successfully resolve your case.