Wheaton family sues hospital over grandmother's opioid overdose death

WHEATON, Ill. (WLS) -- The family of a Wheaton grandmother is suing Delnor Hospital in Geneva, claiming the woman's primary physicians are to blame for her opioid addiction and overdose death.

The family said she had been over-prescribed painkillers over a long period of time.

Liinda Svanstrom's life was cut short at the age of 55. She died of a prescription drug overdose in 2017.

"She ended up taking a combination of medications that should not have been taken together and it had a lethal effect," said Nina Koehler, daughter.

Koehler said her mother had at least four different kinds of opioids in her system when she died.

Svanstrom was first prescribed painkillers years ago after knee surgery. She became addicted. Yet, as described in a wrongful death suit filed this week, doctors continued to prescribe Svanstrom opioids, even when her family raised red flags.

"She kinda used the hospitals and the physicians as her gateway to fuel her addiction," said Koehler.

Koehler hopes the lawsuit will bring attention to the problem of easy access and over-prescribing of opioid painkillers. Friday Senator Dick Durbin reintroduced legislation aimed at combating opioid overproduction and over-prescribing. The bill includes requiring drug company reps who sell opioids to be licensed and undergo training.

Durbin also wants to impose a tax on opioids to fund drug take-back and treatment programs.

The Chicago Medical Society supports the bill, but acknowledged the tough balance of making sure patients who really need opioids get them.

"What would be hurtful for me as a physician would not be there for a patient, and not there for a cancer or terminally ill patient," said Dr. Jay Chuahan, Board Chairman Chicago Medical Society
While it's too late for her family, Koehler feels encouraged the opioid epidemic is getting the attention it deserves.

"It's bittersweet, it's great, I'm so happy it is finally coming to light that people are saying there is a problem here, how can we fix it," Koehler said.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.