Medics' alleged mistakes in Chicago girl's death likely to cost $1.75M

Arielle Starks died at Advocate Trinity Hospital after ambulance carrying her to hospital collided with car

By Fran Spielman
The Chicago Sun-Times

CHICAGO — Chicago taxpayers will likely spend $1.75 million to compensate the family of a 13-year-old girl who died of bronchial asthma in 2002 after a string of alleged mistakes made by Chicago Fire Department paramedics.
Arielle Starks died at Advocate Trinity Hospital after an ambulance carrying her to the hospital collided with a car at 87th and Langley. Another ambulance picked up Arielle and took her to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

If not for a series of "mistakes" made by the four paramedics who treated Starks on that fateful day, attorney Brian Murphy argued that the girl would be alive today.

The first mistake was that the child was "intubated through the esophagus that leads to the stomach instead of through the trachea that leads to her lungs," Murphy said. The second mistake involved ignoring a "standing medical order" issued by the Fire Department. According to Murphy, it states that if a patient's condition worsens, paramedics are to look into the patient's mouth to "visually observe where the breathing tube was placed."

The third mistake involved the "fender-bender" that delayed Starks' trip to the hospital. Instead of proceeding after determining that the driver of the other vehicle was not injured, the paramedics chose to follow what Murphy called a "ridiculous general order" that states that if you're in an accident involving property damage, you remain on the scene.

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