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California surgeon, hospital sued for malpractice

A family is suing a surgeon and Benioff Children’s Hospital for malpractice as well as wrongful death, if it is eventually proven that their daughter died in December 2013. The lawsuit follows the family fighting to continue life support for the girl and move her to a New Jersey-based long-term care facility after doctors declared her brain dead.

The then 13-year-old girl had surgery to cure sleep apnea, but the family says the surgeon did not adhere to care standards, opting to do invasive surgery to remove her uvula, adenoids, tonsils and soft pallet. The medical malpractice suit states that the surgeon noted that the girl could have a misshapen carotid artery near the surgical area, putting her at risk of hemorrhaging, but he did not alert the nurses following the surgery.

The girl was hacking up blood when her parents saw her after the procedure, according to the lawsuit, and her mother requested a doctor’s presence when the nurses could not agree on how to treat her daughter. When he arrived after several hours, the teen’s heart rate and oxygen levels were in decline and she went into cardiac arrest. It took more than two hours for them to revive her. While they pumped around two liters of blood from her lungs, according to the suit, they never performed a tracheotomy. Afterward, hospital staff told the girl’s parents that she suffered substantial brain damage and were making preparations to remove the life support. The parents were never given an explanation as to how this occurred, according to the pleadings.

Patients and parents of minor patients who believe they have suffered from the negligence of doctors or nurses have the right to file medical malpractice lawsuits. Doing so could earn them compensation to pay for past, present and future medical costs.

Source: ABC News, “Family of California Teen Declared Brain Dead Sues Hospital for Malpractice“, Sydney Lupkin, March 3, 2015

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