Texas family of woman who died from Legionnaires’ disease sues Northwestern Hospital

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CHICAGO — A woman was admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for a clinical trial, and less than a month later, she died. Her family is now suing the hospital.

Carol Ruiz was only 35 years old when she died at the hospital in November 2017. She was in a clinical trial for multiple sclerosis, and attorneys for her family said it was the hospital’s water that ultimately killed her.

The lawsuit filed Friday claims Northwestern should have kept the water at a different temperature and periodically tested it. The suit claims the hospital’s water system gave Ruiz legionella, which is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.

It’s the deadliest water borne illness in the United States. According to the CDC, if you get it, one in 11 people die from it.

Ruiz’s doctor never diagnosed her with Legionnaire’s disease because they didn’t think to test her for it. The lawsuit also claims the water gave another patient legionella in May 2017. The Illinois Department of Public Health linked that case and Ruiz’s case.

Ruiz’s immune system was particularly compromised because of the clinical trial she was in. Her family said she was particularly vulnerable and because of that, the hospital should be making sure its water is safe.

One in four people who get the disease get it at a hospital or healthcare facility, according to the CDC. This family said they chose Northwestern because of its reputation and because they love Chicago.

WGN has reached out to Northwestern Hospital for comment, but has not heard back.

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