Ruth Colby: Son Suing Chicago Hospital, Doctor for Negligence

Ruth Colby
Ruth Colby

By Nick Reiher

The son of the late president and CEO of Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox is suing a Chicago hospital and one of its surgeons for negligence in her death Oct. 15, 2023.

The Will County community was shocked and saddened at the news Ruth Colby, 69, passed away following heart surgery at University of Chicago Hospital. The specific hospital and procedure she had were not mentioned at the time, other than to say Colby entered the Chicago hospital for a heart procedure.

Keith Hebeisen, partner at Clifford Law Offices filed a complaint Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, against the hospital and doctor for negligence in his attempt to repair her heart valve on Sept. 25, 2023.

The complaint – filed on behalf of David Chodak, Colby’s son and executor of her estate –alleges the doctor recommended a minimally invasive robotic heart valve procedure.

Following the lengthy procedure, Colby was unable to transition off of bypass and suffered severe heart failure. She was transferred from the operating room to the intensive care unit in critical condition and died approximately three weeks later while still in the care of the defendants, the lawsuit states.

“Our expert report states that Ms. Colby underwent the wrong procedure which was negligently performed,” Hebeisen said in a press release.

“We intend to get to the bottom of what happened, because Ms. Colby did everything as she was advised, and relied on this hospital and its doctor to properly treat her condition without her dying.”

The complaint alleges, in part, that following the surgery:

  • On September 28, 2023, and thereafter, RUTH COLBY developed hepatic and renal failure.
  • On October 1, 2023, and thereafter, RUTH COLBY developed atrial fibrillation and ventricular arrythmias.
  • On October 15, 2023, RUTH COLBY died as the result of prolonged cardiogenic shock, organ malperfusion and worsening multi-system organ failure.

The complaint also alleges the doctor who performed the surgery:

  • did not convert to an open procedure;
  • did not replace the mitral valve with a bioprosthetic valve;
  • did not preserve left and right ventricle function;
  • did not return RUTH COLBY to the operating room immediately after the initial surgery to perform mitral valve replacement.

The expert referred to in the lawsuit was not named, but Hebeisen included their assertions with a press release concerning the lawsuit. The unnamed doctor describes themselves as a “practicing board-certified cardiovascular surgeon and a board-certified trauma general surgeon, with additional prior board certification in surgical critical care, with over four (4) decades of surgical experience …”

It was the doctor’s opinion Colby’s death was “preventable,” and that with the proper replacement procedure, Colby should have had a predicted mortality of less than 1.3 percent to 1.7 percent. The doctor added, “Ms. Colby died from what should have been a straightforward mitral valve replacement with a bioprosthetic.”

The doctor’s report also noted Colby had a history of sick-sinus syndrome, which required a pacemaker in 2006. She was referred to University of Chicago Hospital by her primary care physician after experiencing signs of worsening shortness of breath and “easy fatigueability,” in the spring of 2023.

The lawsuit seeks compensation in excess of $50,000, and a jury trial.

Officials from Silver Cross Hospital declined comment. University of Chicago Hospitals has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Farmers Weekly Review is not naming the doctor who performed the procedure because he has not been charged. He is described on the hospital’s website as “a pioneer in the field of minimally invasive and robotic cardiac surgery. He specializes in the treatment of coronary artery disease, heart valve disorders, atrial fibrillation and other cardiac diseases, using robotic and less invasive techniques in order to reduce pain, disability and recovery time.”

Nick Reiher is editor of Farmers Weekly Review.

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