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Hospital Settles Suit For $1.75 Million

Sep 2, 2004 | Pioneer Press Online The recent settlement of a wrongful death suit gave a deceased baby's mother, father, and brother each $443,695, but more important to them is that another family doesn't have to suffer their pain.

Joshua Kraeger died Oct. 21, 2000, four days after being born, because Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital botched the birth procedure, his mother, Cary resident Joyce Kraeger, charged in the lawsuit.

Nearly four years later, on Aug. 19, Cook County Circuit Judge Barbara A. McDonald entered an order approving a settlement payment from Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital of $1.75 million to Kraeger and her attorney, Kevin J. Burke of Burke, Mahoney & Wise in Chicago.

Joyce Kraeger said the money does not matter.

"It still feels somewhat hollow, because obviously what we want is our son back. Nothing in the world could make up for not having him in our lives," she said. "But we are hopeful that bringing the suit and focusing attention on what the hospital did, and did not do, will force them to make changes so they can be better prepared the next time this happens, and hopefully another family won't have to endure the loss of a child."

In the settlement, Good Shepherd admitted no liability for the incident.

"We are pleased we were able to reach an agreement in this matter," the hospital said in a prepared statement. "We will not discuss the specifics of the case or the resulting settlement. With this matter now settled, we will turn our focus once again to our primary mission, the care of our patients."

Joyce Kraeger became a Good Shepherd patient at about 1 a.m. Oct. 17, when she was about 35 weeks pregnant. Just about an hour before, she had woken up bleeding heavily and her husband, Jeff, called an ambulance. The ambulance brought her to the nearest hospital, which was Good Shepherd in Barrington.

When Kraeger arrived at Good Shepherd, nurses in the labor and delivery department hooked her up to a fetal heart monitor, then called an on-call doctor at home and told her the baby's heart rate was normal. The doctor instructed the nurses to keep her overnight and monitor her and her baby, Kraeger said.

But at 4 a.m., Kraeger said, the nurses noticed problems with the baby's heart rate. They then notified the on-call doctor, who at the time was making her way to the hospital to check on another patient and had also asked about Kraeger.

"When the doctor came in around 4:15 or 4:30, she had actually made a comment to the nurse about not calling her earlier," Kraeger said.

Her lawsuit charges the nurses failed to recognize numerous signs of fetal distress during labor and failed to promptly notify the doctor.

The doctor noticed heart rate decelerations between 2 to 3 a.m. after looking at readouts. She ordered an immediate C-section, but the baby had not been breathing for 16 minutes when he was delivered at 5:16 a.m.

Hospital staff resuscitated him, but his condition deteriorated over the next few days "apparently because of the loss of oxygen during those critical 16 minutes, from 5 to 5:16, which resulted in significant damage to the brain and a lot of bleeding," Kraeger said.

"We believe had the doctor done the C-section earlier, it would have prevented that," Kraeger said.

After the surgery, the Kraegers learned their baby was severely brain damaged. On Oct. 21, after the infant had been transported to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, it became clear Joshua had basically no brain function and he would not recover.

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