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Jury says hospital negligence caused woman's death

Nearly every Illinois resident who has been to a hospital emergency room knows the wait can be long and tedious. The cases that are the most life threatening are, naturally, taken first. However, there are cases in which hospital negligence prevents a patient with an urgent medical condition from receiving much-needed care in a timely manner, which can lead to serious consequences.

For instance, a 54-year-old woman went to an emergency room at a hospital in her area in Aug. 2008. She was exhibiting signs of a heart attack, which is considered a priority. However, she sat in the ER for approximately 20 minutes without being seen.

As she waited, she began sweating and then aspirated. Every time a new symptom appeared, the woman's daughter informed hospital personnel. At one point, she was lying on the hospital floor while staff took a boy with a broken arm back for treatment, even though he arrived after she did.

The hospital attempted to explain why the woman did not receive immediate attention by saying her death was unavoidable. The hospital also said she had been experiencing medical issues long before arriving at the emergency room. According to the defendant, she died when her heart suddenly ruptured, which could not have been prevented. An Albuquerque jury disagreed and awarded her family $4 million. A judge recently upheld the verdict, and the hospital plans to appeal.

Once an Illinois resident walks through the doors of an emergency room, the hospital bears some responsibility for that person's health and safety. There is no excuse for blaming hospital negligence on a patient -- especially when staff members are aware of the person's condition. Hospitals, doctors and other medical personnel need to be held liable when the care given to patients falls below accepted standards.

Source:, "Court upholds $4 million verdict against hospital", David Stevens, Oct. 23, 2015

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