WHEATON, Ill. — A Wheaton man who tested positive for COVID-19 died in a matter of days. His family was devastated and upset and said the hospital where he was treated didn’t follow their wishes and do more to try to save his life.
Dimitrios Katsaros, 70, known as Jimmy by his friends and family, started to get sick three days ago. Katsaros was diabetic, and was also going through chemo for leukemia. On Sunday things got worse.
“As we were continuing to give him things to increase his blood sugar his eyes closed and his breathing became shallow,” Melpo Katsaros, his daughter, said.
Katsaros’ daughter called 911, and he was rushed to Northwestern Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield.
The doctor in the ER spoke to his family by phone, and said Katsaros was being intubated, and then transferred up to the intensive care unit.
The family then got another call from the attending physician in the ICU.
“She didn’t feel it was worth treating a person with COVID-19 because he had co-morbidity. That it wasn’t worth the risk to her staff to get infected is what she told us,” Chris Curdes, Katsaros’ son-in-law, said.
Melpo Katsaros said she explain the family wanted to make sure they did everything to keep her father alive.
Dr. Nathan Goldfein, chief medical officer for Wakefield Brunswick in Texas, just published an article called “The black art we practice in white coats,” discussing disaster medicine and the tough calls doctors are making in COVID-19 cases, particularly when it comes to elderly patients with underlying conditions.
“The odds of resuscitating them are almost zero even if you got their heart started again the reason their heart stopped is because they couldn’t breathe we can’t cure that,” he said.
Goldfein said even with elderly patients, they try to resuscitate them. He said the problem with COVID-19 is that by doing so, all the resuscitators, the doctors and nurses, are then exposed to the deadly disease.
The Katsaros family said the doctor asked them multiple times to sign a DNR, or do not resuscitate order, but they refused. On Monday, they got an update from a charge nurse.
“She said, ‘Even if your family doesn’t want DNR we have two doctors that will override it,’” Melpo Katsaros said. “So at this point your dad is DNR. This is a couple hours before the phone call that his heart stopped. She said that was at 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The family, including Katsaros’ wife of 47 years could not be at his bedside.
“It’s not worth 10 minutes of CPR to give him a chance?” Curdes said. “To be told you’re basically not worth the effort. Vets do more to save dogs than Northwestern said Jimmy was worth. That makes it that much more painful.”
Katsaros’ daughter said nobody should have to go through this.
WGN reached out to Northwestern about this case. The hospital said due to patient privacy laws, they could not comment.
One attorney WGN spoke to said it is possible for two doctors to sign off and override a family’s DNR wishes. Legally the doctors can do so if the patient does not have an advanced directive, or physical copy of a health care power of attorney.
However, the attorney said verbalizing the wishes over the phone in this case, was not enough. The attorney said if a family feels a hospital was negligent, they could pursue a civil suit.
DuPage County has had 795 positive COVID-19 cases and 26 deaths, that’s about 14% of the number of cases in Cook County.