Cook County, Illinois taxpayers – county seat Chicago – could find themselves shelling out $24 million to settle medical malpractice lawsuits, all coming from problems at Stroger Hospital in Chicago, which is part of the Cook County public health system.

The $24m would go to settle four separate lawsuits. The Cook County Board is scheduled to vote on approving the settlements soon.

The biggest settlement would be $20 million to settle a lawsuit that was brought by Justine Francique. Francique’s 3-year-old son, Keith, suffered irreversible brain damage after doctors and nurses failed to start CPR when the child went into cardiac arrest while recovering from surgery to correct an undescended testicle. The proposed settlement would make sure the boy has proper medical care for the rest of his life.

Other proposed settlements include $2.4 million to the estate of a woman who died of an infection after treatment for cancer, $1 million to the estate of a man who died of an infection to an external fixator on his arm (a device surgically attached to stabilize bone and tissue around the site of an injury or surgery), and an undisclosed fourth case that would be settled for $625,000.

In a report published in the Chicago Tribune, County Commissioner Larry Suffredin claimed that the number of cases do not indicate a pattern of problems at the hospital. Suffredin is quoted as saying “These are individual errors.”

Despite Suffredin’s denial that there are systemic problems, the county’s new (less than two years on the job) head of public health, Dr. Ramanathan Raju, has tightened up the county’s risk-management system.

It’s not clear whether there is a systemic problem at Stroger – as a large public teaching hospital, a certain number of medical errors are to be expected. Estimates nationwide are that between 44,000 and 98,000 people a year die in American hospitals due to medical errors.

Medical malpractice claims can be complicated, involving doctors, hospitals, medication, medical equipment and other medical personnel. If you believe you or a family member have been harmed by a mistake made by a medical practitioner, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney at the law firm of James C. DeZao, P.A.