A medical malpractice and wrongful death suit filed in federal court last month claims that negligence by the staff at a Chicago VA hospital led to the suicide of an Iraq War veteran.
The suit alleges that physicians at Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center knew or should have known that Sgt. Daniel Nerstrom could become a danger to himself when he sought help from two different doctors in 2014.
"Sgt. Nerstrom was not given the help he needed at the hospital, and the results were tragic," said the family's lead attorney, Jay Paul Deratany of The Deratany Firm. "The doctors he saw failed to follow their own standards of care, as set by the Department of Veterans Affairs Guidelines for the Management of PTSD."
Nerstrom's family is represented by Deratany and attorney Megan O'Connor, also of The Deratany Firm.
Nerstrom, of Libertyville, disappeared on December 1, 2014, and his body was found on March 13, 2015. An investigation determined he had died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was just 31 years old.
A 10-year veteran of the Army, Nerstrom enlisted in 2003. He was deployed in February 2005 to southern Baghdad, where he served with the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment until February 2006. He was then stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado until he was medically retired in 2013.
Family and friends said Nerstrom suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and was particularly troubled by the loss of two close friends who were killed in Iraq when the armored vehicle they were riding in was hit by an IED. He began seeing VA psychiatrists to treat his PTSD after returning home to the Chicago area.
The suit claims that the hospital and the doctors who treated Nerstrom deviated from accepted standards of care by prescribing him an antipsychotic medication known to be ineffective for treating PTSD and by failing to provide timely psychotherapy.