BLOOMINGTON — The family of a Bloomington man stabbed to death by his son two years ago has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, accusing the hospital of failing to provide timely medical care that could have saved the victim's life.
Bruce Petersen and his wife Nancy were stabbed by their son, Brian Petersen, on July 31, 2016 in their home west of Bloomington. Nancy Petersen died at the scene and her husband was taken to Advocate BroMenn.
In February 2017, Brian Petersen, now 27, was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the death of his parents. He remains in a state mental health facility. He could remain in treatment for the rest of his his life — the length of time he could have served in prison if convicted of murder.
According to a lawsuit filed by Bloomington's Ginzkey Law Office, doctors at the Normal hospital did not surgically treat Bruce Petersen's chest wounds, but instead arranged for him to be transferred by helicopter to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria.
Petersen was taken to surgery there at 11:27 a.m. — about two hours after first responders with the Bloomington Fire Department sent information to BroMenn about the penetrating chest wound, according to the lawsuit.
Petersen died at 3:41 p.m.
The delay in providing the 68-year-old victim with appropriate trauma services may have cost him his life, according to a medical expert's opinion filed with the lawsuit.
"More likely than not, had Bruce Petersen been taken to a Level I or Level II trauma center with proper trauma surgeon coverage, he would have been timely treated and, as the clinical experts will state, would have survived his injuries," said the opinion from an unnamed chief medical officer who provided a statement of the merits of the lawsuit to Ginzky's firm.
The accusations in the lawsuit — which seeks in excess of $50,000 — mirror a complaint filed in May 2017 against Advocate BroMenn by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The complaint noted the hospital, as an IDPH-designated Level II trauma center, is required to have a surgeon capable of cardiothoracic surgery on call to arrive at the facility within 60 minutes of notification.
Advocate BroMenn failed to meet that obligation on at least 26 days in 2016 as cardiovascular surgeons were as far away as Chicago when needed, said the state complaint.
The state also said the hospital did not notify other local emergency medical responders — even though another Level II trauma center at OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center is nearby in Bloomington — or the state, as required when a "resource limitation decision" is made by a medical facility.
In its settlement with the state, Advocate BroMenn was fined $55,000 and implemented a plan of correction to address the deficiencies.
In response to the lawsuit, Lisa Lesniak, System Vice President, Public Affairs, with Advocate Aurora Health, said Thursday "the safety of our patients is our top priority and we continue to ensure our emergency department is appropriately staffed to provide the highest quality care in the safest environment. We resolved the issue with IDPH and continue to maintain our Level II Trauma Center designation."
The IDPH action cited the death of a chest trauma victim in Bloomington, but did not identify the patient.
Chase T. Molchin, the lawyer with Ginzky's firm handling the wrongful death action filed by Petersen's estate, said state public health laws "are put in place to keep the community safe."
A breach of state law "puts the community at risk — even if the hospital has a really good track record. If laws aren't followed, it can lead to a downhill slide in the quality of health care in the community," said Molchin.
Brian Petersen is excluded from receiving money from any settlement of the lawsuit based on a state law that bars a person responsible for a death from benefiting from that death.
As part of the probate case to settle the Petersen's estate, the victim's family approved a financial plan that provides money for Brian Petersen after his release from state care.