Family of Ruth Colby, late Silver Cross CEO, suing U of C Hospital, claiming negligence

Stephanie Wade Image
Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Family of late Silver Cross CEO suing U of C Hospital after death
The family of Ruth Colby, who was Silver Cross' CEO, has filed a lawsuit against University of Chicago Hospital, claiming negligence after her death.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A family is now suing the University of Chicago Hospital and one of its doctors, claiming negligence.

Ruth Colby died after complications from surgery.

She served as president and CEO of Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox.

"It's really been complete shock for our whole family," Colby's husband Don DeFrank said.

Five months ago, her family said, the unimaginable happened.

"We really expected this to be a quick recovery, and from the moment she entered the hospital, things just continued to spiral," Colby's son David Chodak said.

On Sept. 25, Colby went in for a minimally invasive robotic heart valve procedure at the University of Chicago Hospital.

The doctor told Colby's husband the procedure had a 98% success rate.

SEE ALSO: Silver Cross Hospital President Ruth Colby dies at 69 from complications following surgery

"The way it was explained: in the hospital on a Monday, recoup on Tuesday, home Wednesday, back at work in two weeks," DeFrank said.

But that didn't happen.

Colby was unable to transition off of bypass, and suffered severe heart failure.

She died three weeks later.

"Ruth is someone who dedicated her entire career to health care, so obviously that makes it even a little bit more difficult for this type of result," Chodak said.

Her family is now suing the hospital and her doctor for medical malpractice, alleging he negligently caused her death in choosing to perform a valve repair when the Clifford Law Offices health expert said it should've been a valve replacement surgery.

"He tried to fix it, and then he tried to fix what he was fixing, and, in the process, he did more damage. Then she ends up with heart failure that she couldn't recover from," said Keith A. Hebeisen, with Clifford Law Offices.

Mourned by the community as a "visionary leader," who was a mentor to everyone, Colby's son said her death could've and should've been avoidable.

"What we do believe is the information was provided incorrectly. We also do believe that the hospital had an opportunity to correct course," Chodak said. "If we can prevent that from happening to other families throughout Chicago, that would be a win for us."

University of Chicago Hospital did not immediately respond to a request for comment.