One recent study found that over 250,000 people die every year in America from avoidable medical mistakes. But the vast majority of these deaths never find their way into court or into the hands of an experienced attorney who can advocate on behalf of the victim’s family. They are simply swept under the rug by doctors and hospital officials who tell the family of the deceased that their loved one was simply too old or too sick and that nothing more could have been done. Although patient groups and the U.S. government encourage hospitals to “own up” to medical mistakes, often times it is only when family members seek the assistance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney that the real facts are uncovered. Medical records must usually be subpoenaed to reveal the truth that doctors and hospitals prefer to keep secret.
As part of a review by the Better Government Association (BGA), it was found that two hospitals in the Chicago area, Cook County’s Stroger Hospital and the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System, had paid out over $80 million dollars each over the last few years in medical malpractice claims. For this review, the BGA poured over thousands of court documents involving settlements on alleged wrongful death and personal injury cases. These cases involved events which ranged from child brain damage to babies who were permanently disabled during labor and delivery. Other Chicago hospitals, such as Northwestern Memorial Hospital, University of Chicago Medical Center, and Rush University Medical Center, were also asked by the BGA to comment about how they rated nationally in terms of settlements paid out—but each declined to comment. Of course, every Chicago-area hospital has had its share of medical malpractice and wrongful death claims over time. Just recently, in fact, Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield paid out $20 million dollars just to settle a single medical negligence case involving a misdiagnosis that resulted in traumatic brain damage.
In the last four years, Cook County Health and Hospitals System, which is in charge of operating Stroger Hospital, settled 41 known lawsuits. In one such example, a woman was choking and vomiting just before undergoing a CAT scan. During the scan, she vomited again and stopped breathing long enough that she suffered brain damage. Afterwards, she was placed on life support where she remained until she died eight months later. The case was settled for $1.5 million dollars.
Another Stroger case involved a woman who alleged that her doctors were negligent in treating an infection, ultimately resulting in the amputation of her leg. When the case was eventually settled for $2.4 million dollars, the patient had, unfortunately, been dead for three years.
In another case involving the University of Illinois, a specialist examined a growth on a patient’s thigh and had it analyzed, determining it to be non-cancerous. But later, it was alleged that the doctor had misdiagnosed the in-fact cancerous growth. By that time, it was no longer treatable. This case was ultimately settled for nearly $10 million dollars.
At the root of these multi-million dollars hospital settlements is human error, and inadequate patient procedures that lead to disabling injuries and fatal mistakes. Most hospitals are now putting into place new procedures to reduce patient deaths and the occurrence of medical malpractice. Officials for the government have also reduced Medicaid payments to hospitals with high rates of injury, infection, and death. They believe that their efforts have started to make a difference, but clearly there is still great room for improvement.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been harmed due to the negligence of a medical provider, call us now. We can help uncover the medical truth about what really happened, who may be responsible, and then advise you free of charge about what options you may have. Our medical malpractice attorneys at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC are compassionate, experienced, and have been responsible for many millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our deserving client families. Call us 24 hours a day free of charge at (312) 644-0444.