Wrongful Death in Illinois? Teenager Dies from Sepsis Infection

A teenager who underwent a routine dental procedure has died from sepsis infection, which begs the question – is this a case of wrongful death in Illinois?

Christopher Schutzius visited Dental Dreams in Blue Island on February 1 after he lost a filling in his tooth eating a piece of candy. He was not accompanied by his foster parents or other adult. The teenager’s intention was to simply have the filling replaced but he was told a root canal was necessary. The procedure was performed the same day and Schutzius returned home.

According to a Chicago Breaking News story, “in the days after Christopher Schutzius, 17. underwent root canal surgery, there were moments when he seemed invigorated and fine, and others when he complained of feeling achy and tired, his foster family in Blue Island said.”

It became apparent early last week that the young man was getting worse instead of better, prompting his foster family to call an ambulance on Tuesday after Schutzius laid down on the couch and refused to move. Once at the hospital, the young man was placed on life support and later passed away.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office performed an autopsy on Thursday and found that Christopher Schutzius died of a toxic sepsis infection following his root canal.

The Chicago Tribune reports that “several medical experts said it is rare for serious complications to occur because of a root canal. It’s too early to determine whether the dental procedure led to sepsis or whether other complications were involved, said the experts, who are not familiar with the details of Schutzius’ case.”

While it is too early to tell whether this may be a case of medical malpractice, or even wrongful death in Illinois there are ongoing investigations on behalf of both the young man and the dental practice.

It is interesting to note, however, that there is a pending lawsuit filed by a dentist who worked for Dental Dreams in both Illinois and Massachusetts. The whistleblower lawsuit alleges that the dentist was fired after refusing to perform “medically unnecessary” treatments to generate additional revenue as ordered by the chain’s Chicago managers.

If this is a similar case, as the family is wondering, it may very well be an example of medical malpractice in Illinois, leading to wrongful death. Either way, this is a tragic story and one can’t help but wonder if anything could have been done to prevent a deadly sepsis infection from taking a young man’s life.