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Cook County Board votes in favor of $4 million settlement in Stroger medical malpractice case

Thursday, October 18, 2018
Chicago Tribune
by Gregory Pratt


Cook County Board votes in favor of $4 million settlement in Stroger medical malpractice case

Cook County commissioners have voted to approve a nearly $4 million settlement for a medical malpractice lawsuit related to an allegedly botched heart surgery at Stroger Hospital.

The lawsuit stems from treatment Jaime Flores received at Stroger Hospital in 2013. The law firm representing Flores, Romanucci and Blandin, released a statement saying Stroger physicians made a “very unfortunate and grossly improper decision” to perform a bedside pericardiocentesis on Flores.

The firm argued the medical procedure to remove fluid from the sac around the heart is typically done in a cardiac catherization laboratory, not bedside. Flores suffered a brain injury as a result of the procedure, the firm said.

At a news conference after the vote Wednesday, Cook County Health and Hospitals System CEO John Jay Shannon said the settlement is not an admission of malpractice or wrongdoing but wouldn’t comment on the specifics.

“The health system does review any time we have a significant negative outcome in any patient we care for,” Shannon said. “We follow the same good practices that any health system would do, including root cause analysis and consideration for improvements in quality and safety whenever we see them.”

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said there’s “no doubt the outcome was tragic” and she can “only hope that this settlement brings some closure to the individual.”

Last month, commissioners voted to settle a lawsuit alleging that a woman’s artery was cut during a 2013 pacemaker surgery at Stroger and the surgical error led to complications. The board approved paying $6.45 million to settle claims over the death of 55-year-old Hermelinda Toro.

Romanucci and Blandin attorneys donated a combined $10,000 to Preckwinkle’s mayoral campaign committee last month.

In a statement, the firm said it has “a long standing history of donating to those candidates, not limited to Preckwinkle, which we believe will be the fiercest advocates to address the many policy reforms critically needed in the City of Chicago that our firm has been fighting for over the last several years, including: police misconduct, nursing home safety, and other civil rights violations.”

Asked whether she should accept campaign contributions from lawyers suing the county, Preckwinkle said she wouldn’t discuss the mayor’s race.

“I’ll only say that raising money, period, as a candidate, you try to raise money as broadly as you can so you’re not indebted to any particular constituency or tribe and you’re free, as I always have been, to make the best decisions you can on behalf of all of the people,” she said.


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