Medical Malpractice Case Settles for $17 Million

A suburban Chicago man has accepted a $17 million settlement in a brain injury medical malpractice case.

Alexander Williams of Harvey, Illinois alleged that he suffered serious brain injuries after medical personnel at the University of Chicago Medical Center failed to diagnose an infection when Williams was treated there in 2003.

Williams currently has trouble speaking, is confined to a wheelchair and is not able to use the left side of his body, including his left eye. The settlement will enable him to undergo physical and occupational therapy and receive daily nursing care.

According to news reports, Williams visited the emergency room at the University of Chicago Medical Center on September 6, 2003 with a temperature of 101 degrees, a severe headache, a rapid heart rate and pain in his chest and back. Williams was born with a heart defect and had previously had endocarditis, which put him at risk for subacute bacterial endocarditis, an infection of the heart.

According to the complaint filed in the case, hospital officials failed to test for the condition and instead gave Williams ibuprofen and released him — only to have him return to the emergency room with the same symptoms two days later. According to court documents, the condition was eventually diagnosed, but the delayed diagnosis meant that surgery could not be performed until 17 days later, when heart tissue had already been destroyed by the infection.

According to recent studies, diagnostic mistakes account for anywhere from 26 percent to 63 percent of all medical malpractice claims.

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