Parents sue Chicago hospital for mistakenly pronouncing son dead

Earlier this year on our Chicago medical malpractice law blog, we mentioned that a local family had experienced the unthinkable while seeking medical treatment for their 7-year-old son back in February. The child had been taken to Mercy Hospital and Medical Center after suffering full cardiac arrest. Doctors tried to resuscitate the child, but they told the boy’s parents that their efforts were not successful.

The child was declared dead. Five hours after the couple had been told that their child was dead, hospital staff realized that the boy’s heart was still beating. Last week, the child’s parents filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the Chicago hospital. Although the hospital claims that the child did die and that his heart began to beat again “spontaneously,” the family believes their son’s heart never stopped beating.

The family’s lawsuit claims that the hospital caused the boy’s parents to experience severe emotional harm by telling them that their child had died when their son was actually still alive. The lawsuit also claims that hospital staff wrongly removed the child’s respirator while he was alive and now the child’s parents are worried that their son will suffer long-term complications.

According to the lawsuit, the couple’s child has been on a ventilator since he was 2 years old. The boy already suffered from brain damage prior to this year’s hospitalization, but since then his condition has worsened. The boy’s father says that his son is no longer able to smile, even though he was capable of smiling before his respirator had been removed for several hours by Mercy Hospital staff.

Although the child was unresponsive when he was taken to the hospital earlier this year, the child’s parents claim that their son’s eyes continued to open every now and then while he was being treated by hospital staff, indicating that he was alive. But staff claimed that the child’s medication was causing the boy’s eyes and body to move after he was pronounced dead.

At first, the child’s parents believed doctors and accepted the news that their son had died. However, when other relatives came to visit the family, the boy’s parents finally demanded that staff check the child again to see if his heart was still beating. The hospital conducted a cardiac ultrasound. The ultrasound showed that the boy was still alive.

Source: Associated Press, “Suit: Doctors mistakenly declared Chicago boy dead,” Oct. 20, 2012

  • Our firm provides counsel to those who have been harmed by medical malpractice. To learn more about our firm and practice, please visit our Chicago medical negligence attorneys page.

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