The death of Chicago Sun Times Chairman James Tyree was ruled an accident last week on the heels of an investigation that revealed he died from an air embolism. The tragedy has prompted Medicare to release a statement regarding the payment of treatment considered medical error. Tyree was being treated for cancer and pneumonia when he died from an intravascular air embolism last Wednesday. He was pronounced dead at the University of Chicago Medical Center at 4:24 p.m.
An air embolism occurs when a vein or artery is obstructed by an air bubble. These bubbles are often benign but in certain situations can shut off blood flow and cause death. Death from intravascular air embolism is considered a ‘never event’ medical error. Never events are widely considered preventable situations that should never occur according to the National Quality Forum, a medical standards organization. One national expert on patient safety has admitted that death by an embolism of this type is a rare event and that there are a host of established techniques in place to prevent this type of death from occurring. In response to the tragedy, Medicare has said that it will no longer pay for treatment of medical errors that are deemed ‘never events’. Medicare’s position will have nationwide effects on victims of medical malpractice throughout the nation.
If you or someone you know has been denied Medicare coverage due to a never event denial, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to review your case and protect your rights.