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Man's sore throat leads to the filing of a wrongful death suit

Illinois residents go to emergency rooms to seek treatment for a variety of injuries and illnesses. They expect to be diagnosed and treated by competent medical staff who will not take unnecessary risks or perform procedures that are not needed or recommended under the circumstances. Sadly, sometimes these seemingly basic expectations are not met, and a wrongful death suit could be the result.

For example, a man went to the emergency room complaining of a sore throat and ended up dead. The emergency room doctor who attended to the man discovered an abscess on his tonsils. Arrangements were made for him to see an ear, nose and throat doctor that same night. Even so, the attending physician made the decision to sedate the man in order to examine the abscess, but he failed to make sure that there was no risk to the patient before doing so.

An anesthesiologist was not called in to medicate the patient, and the man was given a higher dose than was necessary to sedate him. Due to the abscess and swelling of his tonsils, the man's airway was narrowed, and the 32-year-old did not receive enough oxygen. He fell unconscious and died. The hospital has reported that it has changed its procedures in order to help ensure that this does not happen to another patient, but that will not bring back this man to his wife and family.

The hospital settled the wife's wrongful death claim for approximately $4.2 million. Even though the monetary settlement will more than likely help provide for the widow in the future, she would much rather have her husband back with her. Far too many people here in Illinois and elsewhere feel the same way about the loved ones they lost due to medical mistakes. They, too, retain the right to file medical malpractice claims if the circumstances warrant it.

Source:, "Family reaches $4.2 million settlement with Waianae Coast health center", Rosemarie Bernardo, Sept. 14, 2016

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Q: What is medical malpractice?

A: Medical malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, hospital worker or hospital, whose treatment of a patient departs from a standard of care met by those with similar training and experience, resulting in harm to a patient...

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