Hospital, docs, ambulance service named in wrongful death suit

Ann Knef Aug. 7, 2006, 10:08am

Hattie Lorene Gilkerson filed suit against Memorial Hospital in Belleville, two doctors and the city of O'Fallon claiming her daughter, Sharon Harris, died because care givers did not exercise the skill of care ordinarily practiced by the medical profession.

Harris, who suffered from a blood stream infection, was admitted to Memorial's emergency room on July 19, 2005 and discharged the same day. She was re-admitted on July 20, 2005, and died on July 27, 2005.

According to the suit filed July 26 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, the hospital and Drs. Leo Sullivan and Phillip Chu, failed to take "due cognizance" of Harris' low white blood cell count and high band count when she first came through the emergency room. The suit also claims the hospital and doctors failed to admit Harris for appropriate care.

"That as a direct and proximate result of one or more of the foregoing negligent acts, plaintiff's decedent, Sharon Harris, suffered urosepsis with septic shock and dehydration, acute renal failure and respiratory failure and as a result thereof suffered extreme physical and mental suffering," the complaint states.

The city of O'Fallon, which operates an ambulance service, is named in the suit for not transporting Harris to the hospital on July 19 and for failing to recognize significant signs of trouble with Harris.

"That in the late evening/early morning betweenn July 19, 2005 and July 20, 2005, defendant O'Fallon EMS was called to plaintiff's decedent's home, but did not transport plaintiff's decedent to any medical facility," the complaint states.

O'Fallon EMS did, however, transport Harris to Memorial Hospital on July 20, 2005, at approximately 7 a.m.

Gilkerson is represented by James D. Ryan of Brown & Crouppen in St. Louis.

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