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Doctor Says Act of Kindness Cost Him Dearly

CHICAGO (CN) - A doctor says he was branded a murderer and had his medical license wrongly revoked for giving a dying man an injection to ease his suffering.

Dr. Robert Wilson sued the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Chief Medical Coordinator Andrew Gorchynsky, Chief of Medical Prosecutions Thomas Glasgow, and others in Illinois Federal Court.

"This case is about the defendants' rush to judgment to strip Dr. Wilson of his medical license for the compassionate palliative care that he provided to a dying and suffering patient, Henry Taylor, who, at the time that Dr. Wilson arrived at his hospital bed, was already irretrievably cast within the process of suffocating to death," the complaint says.

Wilson, a cardiologist, claims Taylor suffered from end-state superior vena cava syndrome, a condition which blocks the return flow of blood from the upper part of the body to the heart, causing these tissues to swell.

In Taylor's case, the soft tissue of his neck had swelled up, compressing his trachea, and slowly closing his windpipe.

Taylor requested no artificial ventilation to prolong his life, and signed two do-not-resuscitate orders.

By the time Wilson was first called to assist Taylor, there was no medication to stop the swelling, and the patient had refused intubation, according to the complaint.

"[T]he irretrievable process of suffocating to death had begun, and for Taylor, death was now a certainty," Wilson says.

Wilson administered two shots of morphine, but it had no effect to ease Taylor's pain.

"The easy thing would have been for Dr. Wilson to just turn his back and walk away, and let this 69 year old terminally ill man continue to gasp uncontrollably and flail about and suffer as he gradually spiraled down the terrifying process of suffocating to death. Dr. Wilson, however, believed he was morally and professionally obligated under American Medical Association Code of Medical Ethics to do everything within his power to relieve Taylor's conscious suffering as Taylor slowly went through the agonizing process of suffocating to death," the complaint says.

Wilson says he wept to see Taylor's suffering. Convinced that Taylor's death was 100 percent certain, the doctor injected Taylor with 40 m/eq potassium chloride to knock him unconscious in his final minutes.

The patient died within seconds - from natural causes, according to Wilson, not from the final injection.

But "without conducting an adequate investigation as to the circumstances surrounding Taylor's death, and without obtaining any information as to why Dr. Wilson chose the particular palliative care approach that he did, the defendants branded Dr. Wilson a 'murderer,' and had his medical license 'temporarily' suspended on October 9, 1998," Wilson claims.

The doctor says he was "blackballed from the start," as the department permanently revoked his medical license in 2000, allegedly without evidence.

Wilson won a reversal of the suspension in 2014 in court.

"As a result of the defendants' wrongful conduct, Dr. Wilson not only lost his medical license for over 15 years with all attendant public humiliation and loss of income, he lost his house, his car, and most of his personal possessions, but all the while maintained his pride, his self respect, and his wife, despite the fact that she and her family were subjected to a sudden and drastic change in their standard of living."Wilson is represented by F. Dean Armstrong in Flossmoor, Illinois.

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