The prospect of undergoing surgery is fraught with many anxiety-provoking concerns — from the hospital stay to the length of recovery — patients and their families worry. The greatest concern is the patient’s well-being and speedy recovery. When this doesn’t happen, and in a tragic situation, when the patient dies after being under the care of medical professionals, the family may be entitled to bring a wrongful death action to recover damages. If someone in your family or a loved one died as a result of being treated by a physician or other medical professional, you are encouraged to contact an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
According to a Chicago Tribune article, in December 2005, Jiries Hattar underwent surgery to repair a hernia. He was 61-years-old. Soon after the procedure, Hattar experienced increased abdominal pain and vomiting, as well as other symptoms. He died six days after his hernia surgery, leaving behind a wife and two children. Hattar’s family recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against the hospital, Advocate Christ Medical Center, a surgeon and a physician’s assistant, for their role in his death.
According to the news article, the family alleges that the physician’s assistant failed to report Hattar’s post-surgery symptoms in a timely manner. The complaint alleges that a doctor should have been brought in the morning after the surgery, when Hattar’s symptoms became severe, in order to properly diagnose and treat him. The family also claims that the hospital failed to provide adequate staff and skilled personnel with respect to Hattar’s post-operative care.
Additionally, the complaint alleges that prior to patient’s surgery, he had been taking an antibiotic. The family asserts that the operating surgeon should have known that taking this medication could have lead to an inflammation of the colon, which ultimately contributed to Hattar’s death. The family asserts that the surgeon should have known to postpone the surgery, because of his pre-operative antibiotics therapy. In response to the lawsuit, the hospital only provided a brief written statement, indicating their commitment to the safest and highest quality care, and that they are not permitted to comment further due to the ongoing lawsuit.
Wrongful death claims based on medical malpractice require certain elements to be proven: (1) that a legal duty exists; (2) the duty was breached or the medical professional (and/or institution) failed to provide the accepted standard of care in the community; (3) that the medical professional’s (and/or institution’s) negligence caused an injury which was a proximate result of the negligence; and as a result, (4) the family suffered economic and emotional damages.
Under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, plaintiffs may now recover damages for non economic harms, such as grief, sorrow and mental suffering. In the past, plaintiffs were limited to economic damages such as lost wages and funeral costs. The damage awards from these actions belong to the estate and may pass to different parties as directed by the decedent’s will.