BLOOMINGTON — A jury found the former owner of BroMenn Medical Center in Normal guilty of institutional negligence in the death of a Bloomington woman in 2019 and awarded her estate $9.1 million in damages Tuesday.
The verdict came after a years-long court battle between Linda Smith and then-Advocate BroMenn Medical Center after Smith found out necessary medical information didn't make it to her doctor.
In April 2014, a radiologist employed by Bloomington Radiology initially interpreted a report of Smith's pancreas as "unremarkable."
Less than a month later, new findings indicated a potential open spot — or hypodensity — on Smith's pancreas and an MRI was suggested via an addendum to the original report.
The report never made it to Smith's doctor.
Two years later, in 2016, Smith was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and by 2017, the malignant tumors had metastasized to her lungs.
Personal injury attorney Jim Ginzkey, one of Smith's attorneys, said Advocate BroMenn Medical Center did not "turn on a feature (within its medical records software) whereby edited/changed diagnostic imaging repots were properly forwarded to the ordering or primary care physician."
"We have in writing that Advocate told the (software) vendor, 'We don't want to do that,'" Ginzkey told The Pantagraph in an interview. "The vendor kept notifying them that a lot of their hospitals wanted to do the update."
Ginzkey also alleged via court documents in 2018 that Advocate failed "to have policies and procedures in place to ensure edited/changed diagnostic imaging reports were properly forwarded" to doctors.
In a statement on Wednesday, Advocate Health and Hospitals Corp. blamed the vendor for the glitch.
"This unfortunate situation was the result of a technical issue by a third-party vendor that has since been resolved," the statement read. "Out of respect for privacy, we are unable to comment further."
However, the way Ginzkey sees it, the situation is far from resolved. The court process revealed the glitch was an ongoing issue from 2009 to 2016; since then, he said, Advocate never went back to do an audit to see if any other patients were also affected by the glitch.
"If you have made a mistake that ends up killing somebody, you have to make sure that mistake hasn't hurt other patients," Ginzkey said. "I guarantee there are other 'Linda Smith's in this community."