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Little Company to Pay Alsip Woman $3.2 Million for Kidney Damage

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DAILY SOUTHTOWN

An 81-year-old Alsip woman whose kidneys were damaged by an antibiotic prescribed for too long of a time was awarded $3.2 million by a Cook County jury.

The jury found Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park guilty of medical negligence for the conduct of one of its nurses.

The lawsuit was filed on Betty Kunz's behalf in April 2002 against the hospital, Midwest Infectious Disease Consultants in Hinsdale, Dr. Juelin Tang and Manor Care Nursing Home Palos Heights East. The jury cleared the physicians and the nursing home of any wrongdoing.

Christopher Hurley, an attorney for Kunz, said his client's quality of life has been dramatically diminished.

"It's no quality of life at all. She has to go through dialysis five hours a day every other day," said Hurley, who represented Kunz with attorney Mark McKenna. After dialysis Kunz is nauseated and feels tired, Hurley said.

Denise Stillman, a hospital spokeswoman, said the hospital is reviewing the outcome of the lawsuit. "The medication error did not occur at Little Company of Mary Hospital, and we are considering an appeal," Stillman said.

Kunz was admitted to Little Company of Mary Hospital for an infection in her knee June 7, 2000. At that time, she was given an intravenous antibiotic drug. Physicians noted on her chart that the drug should be discontinued after several days. She was discharged from the hospital June 10, and administration of the drug should have stopped at that time, her attorney said.

But when Kunz transferred to Manor Care Nursing Home Palos Heights East for rehabilitation, a form stated she should continue to receive the drug every 12 hours, her attorney said. The antibiotic is known to be highly toxic to the kidneys if given over a prolonged period. Kunz continued to receive the antibiotic until June 14, her attorney said.

At that point, her kidneys were damaged, Hurley said. Kunz was diagnosed with kidney failure June 15, Hurley said.

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