The sad truth is that sometimes medical negligence means saying good-bye to a loved one. And this is at its most heartbreaking, when it happens to children.
Three incidents of late, alleging medical malpractice, have served to galvanize the issue for anyone who has become aware of their stories. They are compelling. They are tragic. And they leave you shaking your head in wonderment.
How does this happen?
Investigations are still under way, but recently In Oakland, California, Jahi McMath, 13, was admitted to Children’s Hospital and Research Center for a routine tonsillectomy, as well as additional procedures in an effort to treat sleep apnea. That was on December 9, and Jahi would have been home for Christmas.
But it didn’t turn out that way. According to Reuters (1/6/14), the teen began bleeding profusely following surgery and her brain swelled. After three days, the hospital declared the girl brain dead and initiated plans to remove Jahi from a ventilator. The girl’s family, however, fought against the hospital’s plan to remove Jahi from life support in state and federal court, and earlier this week, the stricken girl was taken by private ambulance to an undisclosed long-term care facility that has offered to care for the child, and attempt to treat and rehabilitate her.
It was reported that doctors at the new treatment facility plan to perform a tracheostomy and gastrostomy for breathing and feeding, and have noted a hint of brain activity that suggests there is some hope. Officials for Children’s Hospital, meanwhile, indicate the hospital is investigating the circumstances leading up to Jahi’s tragic injury. It is not known if her family is planning a hospital malpractice lawsuit.
However, the parents of a newborn baby who did not survive an attempted vaginal childbirth using forceps plan to launch a medical malpractice lawsuit against the obstetrician who performed the delivery.
According to the New York Daily News (1/5/14), Rachel Melancon had asked for delivery by cesarean section. The obstetrician, identified as Dr. George T. Backardjiev, is alleged to have refused to perform the delivery in that fashion and instead attempted to bring Olivia Marie into the world through the vaginal birth canal. According to the report, the delivery proved difficult and forceps were required.
The infant suffered a cracked skull and broken spine, allegedly as the result of forceps, and did not survive beyond five days. She was delivered at Medical Center of Southeast Texas. Rachel Melancon, the mother, alleges medical negligence on the part of the doctor and further alleges that the forceps led to her daughter’s death. Melancon and her fiancé claim they heard the baby’s skull crack during the doctor’s attempt to deliver the child vaginally.
In a tragic turn, Melancon was subsequently rushed to surgery for an emergency cesarean section. But it was too late. The baby allegedly suffered too many injuries during the attempted forceps delivery.
And then there is the story of Finley Boyle, the 3-year-old tot from Hawaii who suffered massive brain injuries following dental work that went horribly wrong. Finley did not survive, and her family is alleging negligence.
According to Reuters (1/5/14), Ashley Boyle traveled to Island Dentistry for Children of Honolulu with her daughter for what was described as extensive dental work. The dentist, identified as Lilly Geyer, had recommended multiple cavity fillings and no fewer than four root canals for the girl.
Court documents filed by the family’s Medical malpractice lawyers allege that Finley was administered “grossly excessive” amounts of sedatives in order for the extensive procedures to be performed. The sedatives, it is alleged, caused the little girl to go into cardiac arrest and she subsequently suffered brain damage.
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Finley did not survive. The dentist office has since closed permanently, or so it has been reported.
A doctor mistake can happen - and that’s why doctors carry malpractice insurance, in the event that such a mistake occurs. The same holds true for hospitals, which are sometimes seen to have committed hospital malpractice.
The risk to the patient, however, can be more than mere inconvenience requiring extra time to heal. Often the consequences can be much more dire and heartbreaking, as the three foregoing cases demonstrate.