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When a loved one is in a nursing facility, you have every reason to assume that he or she will receive a higher level of care than would be possible at home. In most such facilities, staff members are available 24 hours a day to monitor patients, dispense medication, and generally follow all care instructions provided by the patients’ attending physicians. But, what happens when the staff does not follow a doctor’s instructions? As a case from Cook County shows, the outcome can be tragic.
A Fall and Subsequent Treatment
The facts of the case began in 2011 when a woman in her mid-80s fell at her home and broke her hip. She was referred to a nursing home in Bartlett for physical therapy and was on prescription Coumadin—a blood thinner that is intended to prevent clotting and potential strokes. According to court records, the staff at the nursing facility “inexplicably” stopped giving the woman her prescription after conducting a test that allegedly reassessed her need for the medication. The woman’s doctor, the suit claimed, did not sign off on stopping her medication.
Two weeks after the medication was stopped, the woman suffered a stroke, which doctors attributed to her inadequately thinned blood. The woman’s family said that from that point on, her “quality of life declined significantly,” and she died four years later. After her stroke but before her death, the woman’s family filed suit against the nursing for failing give her the medication as directed by her doctor.
Putting the Pieces Back Together
Earlier this week, a jury in a Cook County circuit courtroom found in favor of the woman’s family, awarding them $4.1 million in damages. The verdict comes in spite of a 2013 investigation by the Illinois Department of Public Health which found no fault on the part of the nursing facility. The jury, however, agreed with the family’s assertion that the staff stopped the patient’s medication without a doctor’s order and failed to detect the error in a timely fashion. In short, the facility failed to meet the prevailing standard of care and was, therefore, liable for her decreased quality of life and her eventual death.
Seeking Justice for Medical Mistakes
Doctors, nurses, and medical facilities must be held to a high standard when treating their patients, and sometimes mistakes and errors will occur. Not every mistake amounts to negligence or medical malpractice, but it can be difficult for the average person to know when to seek legal help. If you or a loved one has suffered any type of injury due to the actions or oversight of a medical professional, contact an experienced DuPage County medical malpractice attorney. We will review your case and work with you in determining your next steps. Call 630-920-8855 for a free consultation at Martoccio & Martoccio today.