The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

Man Settles Malpractice Suit For $17.7M For Brain Injury

Former Stone Park police officer George Nissen, 47, settled a medical malpractice lawsuit with the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center for $16.2 million, according to the suburban Proviso Herald. The Melrose Park resident also will receive $1.5 million from a nursing agency that was named as a defendant in his suit.

The settlement, approved by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, must now get final approval from the Circuit Court of Cook County.

George Nissen suffered a serious brain injury (specifically, a brain stem herniation) due to a failure to monitor the pressure inside his skull during an external ventricular drain, Chicago injury lawyers Steven M. Levin and Margaret P. Battersby claimed.

He is now a quadriplegic. He can't eat or speak and is able to communicate only through eye movements and shaking his head.

The plaintiff was admitted to hospital's intensive care unit on Feb. 13, 2005 after he suffered a stroke he believed was caused by an injury stemming from an altercation he had with a suspect while making an arrest. Doctors attempted to drain excess fluid from his brain and conducted a test on Feb. 21 to determine if it was successful.

But the nursing staff failed to monitor his intracranial pressure, which allegedly hit dangerous levels throughout the night, according to the lawsuit's claims.

Two UIC staff nurses, a healthcare staffing agency and the hospital were named as defendants in the lawsuit. Attorneys said one of the nurses was unqualified to care for patients in the neurosurgical intensive care unit, while they claim neither of the two nurses provided an adequate patient report at the end of their shift.

Illinois injury lawyer Steven Levin, who describes the claim below, said the settlement was reached on the eve of the trial:

"As a result of a tragic and inexcusable comedy of errors, George's ICP level dangerously elevated, his neurological status declined, and his physicians were not notified until he had already suffered a catastrophic brain injury."

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