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$14.5 Million Accord Reached In Medical Malpractice Suit

As part of the settlement, a confidentiality agreement was reached with the surgeon, Hegarty said Friday. The doctor is set to be dismissed from the case on Monday, and Hegarty said he agreed not to mention the doctor’s name in the media.

Hegarty declined to identify the surgeon on Friday.

Mills suffered from cancer that was adjacent to the spinal column and required some of the vertebrae to be removed surgically in October 1992, added Hegarty, of Hegarty & Hegarty in Chicago.

As a result of the surgery, Mills back was unstable and she had to be immobilized or have steel rods inserted in her back to prevent paralysis, Hegarty said.

Two rods were placed in Mills’ back in October 1992, but due to complications, the rods needed to be replaces, Hegarty said.

The first of the rods was removed in August 1995. The second rod was removed on Feb. 14, 1996.

During the second operation, the orthopedic surgeon was conducting Mills’ and another surgery simultaneously, Hegarty said. Due to the other procedure, Mills’ care was overseen by a resident surgeon.

The resident did not place Mills in traction and released her to the recovery room without any protection, Hegarty said. The resident contended that she was unaware of the surgeon’s instruction regarding traction.

When Mills made her first movement in the recovery room, she became paralyzed, Hegarty said. She suffers from pulmonary problems resulting from the surgery, he added.

“They just blew a simple direction here,” Hegarty said.

The settlement was reached Thursday evening following a mediation session with Donald P. O’Connell, the former chief judge of Cook County Circuit Court.

Joseph A. Camarra and other partners with Cassiday, Shade LLP in Chicago represent the defendants. The attorneys could not be reached for comment early Friday afternoon.

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