The family of a former Chicago Sun Times owner recently reached a $10 million dollar medical malpractice settlement against the University of Chicago Medical Center where he died. In March 2011, James Tyree was undergoing treatment for stomach cancer at the University of Chicago Medical Center. When hospital staff removed a dialysis catheter from Tyree, air bubbles entered his blood stream which ultimately led to his death. According the Cook County Medical Examiner, the death was "accidental." The family's lawyer maintains the death occurred because of medical malpractice. Of the $10 million dollar settlement, half will go to the James Tyree Charitable Foundation and the other half will go to the family.
At the time of his death, Tyree was just 53 years old. He had been a board member of the University of Chicago Medical Center and was involved in numerous local charities. In 2009, Tyree had previously led a partnership that acquired the parent company of the Chicago Sun Times out of bankruptcy and other local papers. Tyree left behind a wife and children.
Poor quality medical care costs employers nearly $400 billion annually according to a 2003 study by the Chicago-based Midwest Business Group on Health. According to the Institute of Medicine, more than 100,000 Americans die every year from preventable medical mistakes. Many medical malpractice lawyers familiar with Tyree's case believe his death was also a preventable medical mistake.
Following Tyree's death, the federal government threatened to strip the University of Chicago Medical Center of Medicare funding. In April, the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it would be terminating federal funding to the hospital because of "deficiencies...so serious they constitute an immediate threat to patient health and safety."
After learning of the government's investigation into its hospital in late March, the University of Chicago Medical Center submitted what it called a "thorough plan of correction to demonstrate continued and sustained compliance with the Medicare conditions of participations." This was a wise decision. The government later decided not to strip the hospital of its federal funding.
Chicago Sun Times, U Of C, James Tyree's Family Reach $10 Million Settlement, April 23, 2012.
Chicago Tribune, Federal Government Acts After James Tyree's Death, April 14, 2011.