$1.6 Million Jury Verdict for Fatal Brain Trauma in Hospital Room

South Korean immigrant Young Bahng, 60, was admitted to the University of Chicago Hospital on April 18, 2006. He was there to undergo a live-donor liver transplant from his son. Bahng was self-employed in the conveyor system business. He was suffering from end stage liver disease as a result of having hepatitis B since 1990. 

On April 19, 2006 in the early morning hours, Bahng fell in his hospital room while attempting to walk to the urinal. He struck his head in the fall and sustained a massive subdural hematoma and intracranial bleed, which required immediate surgery.

By the time the surgery was under way, Bahng had sustained profound brain damage and was placed on life support immediately following a craniectomy. He died as a result of his brain trauma on April 25, 2006 and was survived by his wife and children.

The family filed a lawsuit contending that the nurses chose not to perform an initial patient needs assessment at the time of his admission as required by the hospital rules and also chose not to perform a timely and adequate Morse fall risk assessment. The fall risk assessment would have identified his high risk of falling. Having known that, the hospital staff would have placed him on a high fall risk intervention and would have instructed him not to walk without assistance.

Bahng’s high fall risk was due to weakness, tremors, confusion, shuffling gait and decreased platelet count. In addition, before going to bed on April 18, 2006, Bahng was given a combination of medications, which had side effects and placed him at increased risk for falling. Bahng had complained of severe leg cramps around midnight. Bahng was given Neurontin, which causes drowsiness. 

Furthermore, the family’s case identified the fact that Bahng had been a high risk for falling during the four prior hospitalizations that he had, all of which were within 5 months. 

The defendant argued that the nurses met the appropriate standard of care. The defendant also maintained that the Morse fall risk assessment would not have been the proximate cause of Bahng’s injuries. Further, the University of Chicago Medical Center contended that Bahng no longer had the problems and conditions that previously placed him in that high risk and therefore, high fall risk intervention protocol was not necessary.

Before trial the offer to settle was $100,000. The jury’s verdict of $1,698,312 was made up of the following damages:

  • $893,000 for loss of society;
  • $450,000 for loss of support;
  • $84,000 for loss of other benefits;
  • $272,312 for medical expenses.

The attorneys for the parties submitted a special interrogatory to the jury which read:  “Was the sole proximate cause of the decedent’s death something other than the nursing care that plaintiff criticizes?”  Answer:  “No.”

The attorneys for the Bahng family were Joseph Miroballi, Scott Rudin, Lauren Levin and Danielle Dombrow.

Estate of Young Bahng, deceased v. University of Chicago Medical Center, No. 07 L 9885 (Cook County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Mount Prospect, Park Ridge, Palos Park, Palatine, Park Forest, Northlake, Round Lake Beach, Joliet, Hillside, Chicago Ridge, Chicago (Uptown, Streeterville, Ukrainian Village, South Shore and River North), Ill.

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