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Chicago hospital failed to inform family about patient’s death

When a patient is taken to an emergency room to receive treatment for life-threatening injuries, a serious illness or other medical condition, it is expected that Chicago medical professionals will do whatever they can to try to save the patient’s life. In the event that a patient’s life cannot be saved, even after providing quality care, hospitals have a duty to inform the patient’s family about what caused their loved one’s death. This helps to provide some sort of clarity during such a devastating time for families.

But after a patient died in December at a hospital in the Chicago area, the patient’s family was not notified immediately. In fact, the Chicago Tribune reported that the patient’s family did not learn of their loved one’s death until nearly two weeks after he had died in the emergency room. The family has since filed a lawsuit against the hospital and the medical examiner’s office for failing to inform them that their loved one had died, even after the family made numerous attempts to find the man after he had gone missing in December.

According to the lawsuit, which was recently filed in Cook County Circuit Court, the patient’s family suffered “severe and extreme emotional distress,” as a result of the mishap. The family believes that their loved one did have identification on him when he arrived at the hospital, and as a result, the hospital should have properly informed the family about the patient’s death.

Instead, the family believed that the man had gone missing and made numerous attempts to find him. The family even filed a missing person’s report with police and called the morgue to find out whether the man’s body had been found and identified. The family is asking for $3 million in damages from the hospital and the morgue where the man’s body was eventually found.

Although negligent medical care did not contribute to the man’s death, the lawsuit is certainly concerning for hospital patients and their families. Why didn’t hospital officials inform the family about the man’s death? And how could his body have been misplaced and misidentified while being transported from the hospital’s emergency room to the morgue?

Source: CBS Chicago, “Lawsuit: Medical Examiner Had Man’s Body, Never Told Family,” June 29, 2012

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