April 2013 

Illinois: HPS Obtains Defense Verdict In Death of Premature Infant

Partner David Hall and associate Tom Comstock obtained a defense verdict  on behalf of Rush Copley Medical Center in a wrongful death suit filed by the parents of a premature newborn that lived for 45 days in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.   Plaintiffs alleged that on the day the infant died, the  infant, who was on both breathing and nasogastric feeding tubes, had an increase in apnea and bradicardic episodes and had at least two severe hypoxic episodes.  During the day the scheduled feeds were held because of the A & B episodes.  In the early evening, the neonatologist ordered that that full feeds via the nasogastric tube resume.  During the Infant’s next feed, a code was called and formula was noted to be coming out of the neonate's breathing and feeding tube. Despite all efforts to resuscitate the neonate, he passed away.  Plaintiff contended that the severe hypoxic episodes during the day left the neonate in a compromised state, including a shunting of the blood from the gut such that the neonate was unable to digest his formula, and therefore, it was negligent to resume full feeds as ordered.  The defense successfully argued that it was within the standard of care to resume full feeds and that the neonate's death was a result of his severe bronchopulomnary dysplasia - a common lung disease in premature ventilator-dependent neonates.