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OSF HealthCare, others ordered to pay out $41 million in malpractice lawsuit

OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center.

A Cook County Circuit Court jury this week ordered OSF HealthCare and other health providers to pay $41 million in a malpractice lawsuit.

Mark McKenna, a partner at Hurley, McKenna & Mertz and an attorney for the plaintiff, said based on conversations they had with representatives of OSF, the hospital’s insurance should be able to cover the entire $41 million award.

“It's a very reasonable question to ask what a judgment like this, how it might impact a medical provider like OSF which owns hospitals throughout Illinois, including in Peoria, and Rockford and Springfield* I believe, and the answer to that question is they have insurance that will cover it,” he said. “OSF itself will not face any type of financial financial risk because of this verdict.”

Craig Pierce, the plaintiff, was admitted to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria in early 2016 for pneumonia, and was later diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. He was prescribed the blood thinner Coumadin and discharged.

McKenna said OSF failed to put a plan in place to monitor Pierce’s lab results and ensure the medication was doing its job to prevent a stroke. The amount of the drug prescribed was too low, and Pierce suffered a stroke after four weeks. He was 64 at the time.

McKenna said most of the right side of Pierce’s brain was permanently damaged, leaving him unable to work, communicate and requiring 24/7 care.

Pierce, who is now 72, sued the hospital system, an Illinois nephrologist, a kidney care corporation and a dialysis service. McKenna said the case was originally filed against two of the other defendants, but they added OSF after discovering they should have been monitoring the blood thinner. The lawsuit was initially filed in 2020. OSF was added as a defendant in November of 2022 and the case went to trial April 10, 2024.

McKenna said they argued that OSF had failed to monitor the drug. OSF argued that it was the job of Pierce’s kidney personnel to check his blood levels.

“Ultimately, we argued to the jury that nobody was monitoring it,” he said. “And that resulted in Mr. Pierce experienced this catastrophic stroke.”

The other defendants are Fresnius Medical Care of Illinois, RenalCare Associates, and Dr. Sudha Cherukuri, a nephrologist.

Under Illinois law, McKenna said all four defendants are jointly liable in the verdict. The $41 million verdict is the largest ever awarded in the state for medical malpractice with a defendant over 70.

Pierce is a resident of Bushnell, where he was a practicing lawyer at the time of his stroke.

“His family has suffered for eight years with no help, no financial resources,” McKenna said. “And this judgment will give them the ability to take care of Mr. Pierce, and give him whatever life and protection he deserves. Because this was 100% preventable.”

McKenna said appeals are common in these cases, and they’re anticipating one from OSF. A spokesperson from the hospital system said they have no comment at this time.

*Editor's note: OSF HealthCare doesn't operate a hospital in Springfield.

Camryn Cutinello is a reporter and digital content director at WCBU. You can reach Camryn at cncutin@illinoisstate.edu.
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