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Woman dies in hospital, husband sues for negligence

The husband of a deceased woman has filed a suit in St. Clair County, Illinois. The wrongful death suit was filed earlier this month against Memorial Hospital of Belleville, Southern Illinois Hospitalist Group, a physician and two members of the medical staff. In the suit, the husband alleges that the hospital failed to adequately treat his wife when she began having difficulty breathing due to some food she reportedly inhaled.

The woman was admitted to Memorial Hospital in November of last year. She was there for a back surgery that went as planned. She was moved to a room to spend time in the hospital so she could be monitored while recovering. A day after the surgery, the woman's family was visiting her at the hospital and noticed that the woman felt like she had a temperature.

A nurse took her temperature and noticed she was nearly a degree above normal. The family requested that the woman's blood sugar be taken afterwards, so the nurse did that as well. It was abnormally low so orange juice was requested to bring it back to normal. Sometime soon after, the woman vomited and a member of the staff was ordered to change the woman's hospital gown.

This is when the woman reportedly inhaled vomit into her lungs. She coughed for a bit but a nurse noted that the coughing eventually subsided. A second blood sugar examination was performed approximately half an hour after the first and her blood sugar had returned to an acceptable level.

But after this, the woman began struggling to breathe and she became unresponsive. A resuscitation team was brought in to administer the proper procedures. The team tried for more than 30 minutes but failed to bring her back to a stable condition and she passed away.

According to the woman's husband, the defendants failed to take proper precautions, failed to recognize that she was struggling to breathe and allowed her to aspirate without addressing the issue. The husband is seeking more than $200,000 in damages.

Source: Madison-St. Clair Record, "Wrongful death complaint says nurses failed to adequately treat patient who inhaled food," Kelly Holleran, Aug. 22, 2012

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