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Ravenswood Hospital Medical Center in Chicago and two physicians have agreed to pay a record $43 million to settle a personal injury action that brought a $55.44 million jury verdict in May. Ravenswood’s parent company will pay $40.5 million, including $3.5 million over the hospital’s insurance coverage, to Anna and Eusebio Mederos, while the doctors will pay a total of $2.5 million, said plaintiffs’ attorney Joseph A. Power Jr. of Chicago’s Power Rogers & Smith. The settlement is the largest ever in a personal injury action in Illinois, Power said. Mederos sustained severe brain damage during a routine diagnostic procedure performed at Ravenswood in April 1995. During a bronchoscopy, said Power, as Dr. James Gallai attempted to take tissue from a lung for a biopsy, “he nicked an artery.” Massive bleeding into the lungs, combined with other complications, caused the oxygen level in the blood to plummet, he said. DAMAGES CONTESTED This required immediate intubation to deliver oxygen to Mederos. The plaintiffs alleged that anesthesiologist Donald Vidger was called to evaluate the patient but left the operating room without evaluating or intubating Mederos. She went into respiratory arrest, then cardiac arrest. A breathing tube was eventually inserted, said Power, but loss of oxygen to the brain had left her bedridden and unable to talk or walk. Mederos sued the hospital and the doctors. During trial, Gallai and the hospital admitted liability, but contested damages. Vidger said he had not been called to evaluate the patient. On May 26, a Chicago jury found all defendants liable and awarded Ms. Mederos $44.4 million and Mr. Mederos $15 million; the latter was the largest-ever loss of consortium award in Illinois history, Power said. The parties settled following mediation. Mederos, who has handled the full-time care of his wife since the incident, will receive about 22 percent of the settlement. Mederos v. Advocate Health Care Network, No. 96 L 561 (Cir. Ct., Cook Co., Ill.).

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