Medical negligence suit nets family $7.5M

February 8, 2010

Medical negligence suit nets family $7.5M

SETTLED | ‘All they had to do was look at the charts’

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January 14, 2010
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporter
Thomas Quirk’s voice cracked as he recalled the horrific suffering of his wife of 39 years, his “Irish colleen,” in the months before her death from a perforated bowel — the result of medical negligence.

On Wednesday, the retired police officer and his two sons settled their wrongful-death lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against Little Company of Mary Hospital and two other entities in the 2004 death of Patricia Quirk, 60, a mental health expert who advocated for mental health services in Chicago and at the state level for more than 15 years.

The West Lawn family’s $7.5 million settlement with the hospital, her doctor, Vera Petras, and Radiation Oncology S.C. set a Cook County record for a settlement in a wrongful death of an adult with no minor children, according to their lawyer.

“She was chairperson of all 19 community mental health advisory boards in the city of Chicago. She’d work 60 hours a week sometimes, and it was all volunteer work,” said Thomas Quirk, 69.

After Patricia Quirk was diagnosed with stage three endometrial cancer, she began radiation therapy at Little Company of Mary on March 26, 2003. The first 11 treatments went fine, according to the suit, then she was overradiated — 17 times — which ultimately perforated her bowel and caused a bacterial infection in her blood and her death.

“The prescription called for 180 centigrays of radiation. She received 270 centigrays, which represents a 50 percent overdose,” said the family attorney, Barry Goldberg. “It could have been caught very early. When the data recording says 280, verification of her charts by human beings would have caught it should be 180. All they had to do was look at the charts.”

Hospital officials could not be reached for comment.

“It’s about making sure this never happens to anyone else,” Thomas Quirk said.

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