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Family Awarded $5M in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Involving Baby

A Cook County Illinois jury rendered a verdict of more than $5 million against a Hinsdale Hospital Emergency room physician and other medical care givers at the end of a trial involving the May 2008 death of a seven-week old baby. Physician David Mayor and Emergency Health Care Physicians were ordered to pay the family of Eli Haig $5,072,030 to resolve a lawsuit after the baby died of heart complications at Hinsdale Hospital.

The baby and his twin sister were born in March 2008 at Oak Lawn Advocate Christ Medical Center. While it was determined that the sister was born healthy, Eli was born with an underdeveloped heart that proved to be the result of hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare congenital heart defect that requires extensive treatment. The young child underwent one of three recommended surgeries at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital to treat the syndrome.

The recommended follow-up surgeries are typically performed between four months of age and three years. While the course of the three surgeries are unable to cure the medical condition, they are usually a necessary procedure for survival.

Doctors Choose to Sedate the Child

The doctors managing Eli’s health informed the family to transport the child to the nearest hospital if he started acting in an unusual manner at any time. That time occurred on May 5, 2008, when Eli began crying excessively, causing his heart to become overtaxed due to the hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The child was taken to Hinsdale Hospital emergency room that day and given Versed, an effective sedative, before being transferred to Hope Children’s Hospital for further care.

Eli was discharged from Hope four days later on May 9. However, on May 16, the child once again began crying excessively and presented diarrhea. Because he was back at home, his Westmont, Illinois family decided to take the boy to the nearby Hinsdale Hospital where doctors once again gave him Versed.

These types of sedatives are expected to minimize medical problems with babies suffering hypoplastic left heart syndrome. This is considered important because excessive crying is considered to be a precursor to cardiac arrest that usually results in the death of the infant. However, the attorneys handling the wrongful death case for the Haig family argued that the child was not crying at the time that the medication was given, rendering it meaningless to administer the sedative.

Medication Given While the Child Was Dehydrated

The lawyers also argued that the boy’s cardiologist had previously recommended Eli be fully hydrated before any sedative including Versed was given. At the trial, the Haig’s lawyers said that the emergency room medical staff neglected to take appropriate steps to ensure Eli’s condition and because of dehydration the boy was unable to absorb the sedative properly.

When the Versed slowed Eli’s heart rate, the attending physician Dr. Mayor called the boy’s cardiologist at Hope Children’s Hospital to confer. Attorneys working on behalf of the family argued at trial that the emergency room doctor should have intubated the boy instead of using that critical time to make a phone call.

In addition to suing physician David Mayor, the family also filed suit against Eli’s Hope Children’s Hospital cardiologist along with Advocate Christ Medical Center and Hinsdale Hospital. To resolve the case, Advocate Christ Medical Center settled their portion for $25,000 and Hinsdale Hospital settled their portion for $250,000. The complaint the family filed against the cardiologist was dismissed.

Second-Largest Illinois Infant Death Jury Verdict

In October 2015, the Cook County Daley Center jury hearing the case awarded Eli’s family including the boy’s now seven-year-old twin sister and younger brother more than $5 million after deliberating for approximately three hours. The award was expected to provide financial recompense for the family’s mental suffering, grief and burial expenses. The size of the award was substantial, making it the second-highest jury verdict in Illinois’ history for an infant death.

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