Corboy & Demetrio Obtains $14 Million for Negligent Intubation of a Baby
The guardian and mother of an 8-year old girl has settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of her daughter in the Circuit Court of Cook County for $14,000,000.00. An order approving the settlement was entered today by the Honorable Edward Washington II, before whom jury selection was set to begin when the case settled. Plaintiff, the Guardian of the Estate of the minor, was represented by Thomas A. Demetrio, Susan J. Schwartz and David R. Barry of Corboy & Demetrio.
The baby, age 7 weeks, was admitted on January 20, 2007, to a suburban hospital for treatment of bronchiolitis. All pediatric care at the hospital is provided by pediatric hospitalists. On January 22, 2007, a pediatric hospitalist determined the baby required transfer to a hospital specializing in pediatric care. Before arrival of the transport team from the pediatric hospital, the pediatric hospitalist chose to intubate the infant. Prior to intubation, the baby was given a sedative and a paralytic drug, vecuronium. Six attempts to intubate the baby were unsuccessful. When the transport team arrived, the infant had no heartbeat. A respiratory therapist and a physician from the transport team successfully intubated and resuscitated the baby. Unfortunately, brain damage resulting in cerebral palsy had already occurred.
Demetrio said, "This elective intubation was performed in a manner that did not provide oxygen to the baby. Paralyzing the baby before intubation was the most risky way in which this intubation could be done. Once paralyzed, the baby could no longer breathe on her own, and it was imperative that she be appropriately ventilated. The failure to provide oxygen caused permanent brain damage."
Demetrio explained, "This injury never should have happened. We were prepared to present expert testimony from the only disclosed pediatric hospitalist expert that this baby did not need to be intubated. When intubation was performed, it should have been done without paralyzing the baby. If you paralyze the infant, you must be absolutely certain you can oxygenate and ventilate the child. Clearly this simple basic medical mandate was not followed, as hypoxia to the brain caused her profound neurological injuries.”
Barry explained, "The defense claimed a coincidental bronchospasm inhibited efforts to intubate and ventilate the baby. The physician on the transport team, however, affirmed there was no bronchospasm. Members of the transport team would have testified that when they arrived, the endotracheal tube used to intubate the baby was in the wrong place. The baby could and should have been ventilated with a bag and mask to provide the necessary oxygen rather than ventilating her through a misplaced tube."
The child lives with her parents in a suburb of Orlando, Florida, where they moved in 2009 to be near other family for support and help to provide the care she needs 24/7, as she is unable to transfer independently.
Schwartz said, “Today this child is an engaging, imaginative 8-year old, who is enthralled by the movie, Frozen, and everything Elsa. Through intensive physical and occupational therapy provided in conductive education at a private school in Winter Park, Florida, she is learning to use her limited motor function and is able, when strapped in, to walk with a scissored gait while pushing a gait trainer. Oropharyngeal weakness, which causes abnormal movements of the tongue, impair her ability to articulate clearly, but she is keenly verbal, acutely aware and very smart. She performs well academically. She is fiercely independent and determined to do everything. She is a speed demon in her motorized wheelchair."
Defendant hospital, the employer of the pediatric hospitalist, was represented by Robert H. Smith and Mary Lopez Golden of Lowis & Gellen.