City sued in death of teen

Feb. 14, 2012 at 1:27 PM
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CHICAGO, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Chicago may have to financially compensate the family of an asthmatic 13-year-old girl who allegedly died due to several errors by city paramedics in 2002.

Arielle Starks was being taken to the hospital with complications from asthma. Brian Murphy, the attorney for Starks' family, claims she would have survived were it not for a series of errors on the part of Chicago Fire Department paramedics.

Murphy told the Chicago-Sun Times the first error was that paramedics intubated the girl through her esophagus rather than her windpipe. Next, paramedics allegedly ignored a "standing medical order," stating if the patient's condition does not improve, paramedics are to inspect the breathing tube.

"They would have seen the tube was in the esophagus and not in her trachea and they would have removed it and properly replaced it," Murphy said.

The third mistake occurred when paramedics got into a car accident en route to the hospital and chose to remain on the scene even after ensuring the other driver was okay.

Starks was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital 40 minutes after the initial 911 call.

Taxpayers could foot the bill for $1.75 million compensation.

"In the United States, children do not die from asthma. It's just that simple," Murphy said. "I would categorically say there is no reason why this girl's asthma should have killed her. She should have been back at school and back playing with her friends the next day."

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