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Hospital Settles Suit With Cary Mother

Aug 20, 2004 | Chicago Daily Herald

As an attorney who once worked for an insurance trade group, Joyce Kraeger of Cary knows the arguments for tort reform well. Part of her job was researching legislation and evaluating what effect it might have on the industry.

But as a mother who lost her baby due to what she sees as a nurse's mistake, she knows even better the pain caused by what she maintained was medical malpractice.

Thursday, a Cook County judge entered an order approving a settlement payment from Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital of $1.75 million to Kraeger.

Kraeger's case began Oct. 16, 2000 when, 34¨ weeks pregnant, she woke up bleeding profusely. She called an ambulance, which took her to the closest hospital, Good Shepherd near Lake Barrington.

She arrived around 1 a.m. Oct. 17 and nurses called a doctor at home who told them to keep Kraeger overnight and monitor the baby.

But that was when things went wrong, Kraeger said. The nurses either didn't keep a close eye on the heart rate or didn't think it serious enough to call the doctor. The readouts showed the baby was having irregular heart rhythms, indicating he wasn't getting enough oxygen, Kraeger said.

When the doctor did arrive several hours later she "I don't want to say scolded, but kind of expressed dissatisfaction with the nurse" for not calling her earlier, Kraeger said. The doctor ordered an immediate C-section, but the baby's heart stopped before the procedure could be performed.

After the surgery, she and her husband Jeff, a Northwest suburban police officer, eventually learned the baby had been without oxygen for about 16 minutes and was severely brain damaged. After a few days it became clear the baby would likely not survive.

On Friday, Oct 21, they had their baby baptized as Joshua. On Saturday, they made the decision to take him off the respirator "so we could be with him and he could die in a dignified way," Kraeger said.

Kraeger doesn't blame the doctor, who was not held responsible in the suit. Kraeger blames the nurses.

The hospital released the following statement.

"We are pleased we were able to reach an agreement in this matter. 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."

Good Shepherd admitted no liability in the settlement, which is routine in such cases.

Kraeger said that her first choice would be to somehow bring Joshua back. Her second would be to demand changes at the hospital so something like that never happens again.

"That's not possible through the legal system either, so all you're left with is some dollar figure," said Kraeger.

"Obviously we don't feel that this does in any way (put a) value (on) Joshua's life that's just immeasurable," she said.

But it is dollars that get people's attention, forcing them to seriously evaluate what went wrong and fix it, Kraeger maintains.


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