Oftentimes cancer medical negligence cases in Illinois hinge on a failure to diagnose cancer in a timely manner. However, a recent Chicago wrongful death settlement deals with a different type of medical negligence surrounding a cancer patient’s treatment. In this case a woman with endometrial cancer died as a result of a perforated bowel, which her estate claimed was the result of her receiving 50 percent more radiation than was necessary.
Decedent Patricia Quirk was diagnosed with stage three endometrial cancer and received all of her radiation treatments at Chicago’s Little Company of Mary Hospital. While the first third of her radiation treatments were appropriate, it was the last two-thirds of her radiation treatment that resulted in the Chicago hospital’s medical negligence. In essence, the decedent was ‘over-radiated’, receiving two times as much radiation at each treatment than was necessary and safe.
Even radiation given in appropriate amounts comes with some negative side effects, including nausea, fatigue/malaise, and hair loss. Yet when given in overwhelmingly large amounts, radiation can have disastrous effects on one’s body, as the decedent’s case unfortunately illustrates. The large doses of radiation eventually caused decedent’s bowel to perforate, or tear, which resulted in a blood infection and her eventual death.
The decedent’s family mourned the senseless loss of Patricia Quirk and argued that if common sense had been applied then the Chicago hospital’s medical negligence could have been avoided. The decedent’s radiation prescription was for 180 centigrays of radiation, yet she was given 270 centigrays. Plaintiff’s attorneys argued that if the medical staff had simply reviewed the chart that the error would have been caught and the Chicago woman’s wrongful death would have been avoided.
As with any cancer medical malpractice lawsuit, the family is left with many ‘what if’ scenarios. While the $7.5 Million settlement by the hospital and two other defendants will not bring the decedent back, the family hopes it sends a message to the medical community that these sort of medical errors will not be tolerated.
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