The Daily Northwestern

Mother sues Northwestern Memorial Hospital over son’s death

Madeline Fox, Reporter

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A Chicago woman is suing Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, alleging negligence leading to the death of her son in 2014.

Mara Berger, independent administrator of her son Adam Berger’s estate, alleges in the complaint filed on March 14 that the hospital and faculty foundation’s failure to treat her son for bacterial meningitis inflammation of brain and spinal cord membranes in a timely manner led to his death on April 1, 2014. She is asking for compensation for damages exceeding $50,000, as well as the cost of the suit.

The complaint alleges Adam Berger, age 44 at the time of his death, was admitted to the emergency room at the Feinberg School of Medicine’s primary teaching hospital the morning of March 31, 2014. He was told, according to the lawsuit, he had a virus and instructed to take antiviral medication used to treat the flu, and although one doctor named in the suit “believed Adam Berger required a physician reevaluation following laboratory and radiographic work-up by a physician,” he was discharged at about 3 p.m. without being reevaluated.

Adam Berger and his mother returned to the emergency room that evening when his condition worsened but were not seen by a triage nurse until 6:30 p.m., after waiting about an hour, the complaint says. The nurse told him he had the flu virus, as he had been told earlier, and he didn’t see an emergency room physician until 8:30 p.m. He began receiving antibiotics to treat bacterial infection after 9 p.m., which the complaint alleges was too late to prevent his death from cardiopulmonary arrest as a result of septic shock widespread infection causing organ failure and dangerously low blood pressure.

A spokesperson for Northwestern Medicine, the parent company of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, declined to comment, saying the organization does not comment on pending litigation.

Mara Berger is suing for her family’s loss of Adam Berger’s companionship and affection, as well as for his medical and burial costs, her lawyer told The Daily.

Cases like this typically take three to four years to settle from filing and are expensive to pursue, requiring more than $100,000 in expenses, Berger’s lawyer said. However, the lawyer, Joseph Balesteri, said his firm has a “pretty strong track record” in cases like the Bergers’.

“It’s very difficult on families and extremely costly to pursue these cases,” Balesteri said. “I wouldn’t put a family through relieving this pain if I didn’t think there was a chance of success.”

Adam Berger is survived by his parents, sister and half-sister.

Email: foxm@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @maddycfox

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