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Chicago family receives $32 million for medical malpractice

It is important that victims of medical malpractice are aware of the rights and protections victims have through the legal process.

A Chicago family recently settled a medical malpractice claim against the University of Chicago Medical Center and five doctors involved in the treatment of a young girl for $32 million. The settlement relates to an incident wherein an 8-year old girl was taken by her mother to the University of Chicago Medical Center with a temperature of 100 degrees and leg pain. The little girl had suffered a fall at school and hit her knee a few days prior. While there, the child's temperature grew to 104 degrees, her leg pain worsened and her lab work revealed an elevated white blood cell count. While under care at the University of Chicago Medical Center, the child's condition worsened.

Despite this and the presence of "bandemia," which can indicate sepsis, as it signals an excess of immature white blood cells, the child's medical records reveal that antibiotics were not ordered by doctors during the first 24-hour period. The child was treated with pain killers such as morphine, ibuprofen and Tylenol instead and an MRI of her leg was scheduled. The girl's mother at one point became concerned with the quality of care her daughter was receiving, later noting ""I trusted the doctors to do their jobs. I should have trusted my own instincts."

Over 24 hours after the girl arrived at the hospital she received antibiotics but at that point it was too late. The girl went into septic shock which included cardiac arrest, her organs shutting down and an inability to breathe on her own. All four of the girl's limbs developed gangrene, died and, ultimately, had to be amputated. The girl spent two months in the hospital following the amputation surgery and was then transferred to a rehabilitation center and is now home. With the settlement, her family hopes to properly provide the lifelong care the girl will require. Typically, those who have suffered a misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose that led to a worsened condition may have a claim for damages against the responsible party.

When a victim has suffered the progression of an illness beyond that which would have occurred in the event of a timely diagnosis of the condition, compensation may be available through a medical malpractice claim. A trained personal injury attorney can help victims, and families of victims, evaluate the harm suffered, as well as any medical professional or hospital negligence, and help victims better understand the process of bringing a claim for damages.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Sepsis claimed girl's limbs but not her spirit," Stacy St. Clair, Jan. 2, 2014

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