A $1.75 million settlement is expected to be awarded to the family of a 13-year-old girl who died of bronchial asthma in 2002 after Chicago Fire Department paramedics allegedly made a series of mistakes that likely contributed to her death.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, Arielle Starks was pronounced dead at Advocate Trinity Hospital after the ambulance she was riding in allegedly collided with another vehicle at the corner of 87th and Langley. A second ambulance was called to pick the girl up and take her to the medical center.
While the Chicago Fire Department says the girl was “close to death” before the accident, the family’s attorney says the string of alleged mistakes made by the paramedics contributed to the girl’s death.
According to the lawsuit, the first mistake was made when Starks was “intubated through the esophagus that leads to the stomach, instead of through the trachea that leads to her lungs.” The second alleged mistake occurred when paramedics failed to perform a “standard medical order” of the Fire Department, which states that, if a person’s condition worsens, paramedics should always look into the patient’s mouth to “visually observe where the breathing tube was placed.”
The family’s lawyer asserts that if the emergency officials had performed this standard duty, they would have noticed “the tube was in the esophagus and not in her trachea and they would have removed it and properly placed it.”
The third alleged mistake involved the crash the ambulance was involved in on its way to the hospital, according to the news source. After the “fender-bender,” the lawsuit says, instead of continuing on to get Starks to Trinity Hospital, the paramedics chose to follow a “ridiculous general order” that states that ambulances involved in an accident where there is property damage must remain on the scene.
As a result of these sequential mishaps, the lawsuit states, Starks was pronounced dead 19 minutes after arriving at the hospital, 25 minutes after being improperly intubated and about 40 minutes after the first call was made to 911.
According to the National Library of Medicine, endotracheal intubation is used to open the airway to give it oxygen or remove blockages from the airway. In most emergency situations it is placed through the mouth, however this comes with the the risk of trauma to the larynx, trachea or esophagus.