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Health & Medicine

Child’s Heart Procedure Goes Terribly Wrong

— February 27, 2017

Anna Cathryn Cooper was being treated at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center for an E. Coli infection when a heart procedure went wrong.

Every parent’s worst nightmare is to see a child suffering.  Once the child is brought to a hospital for a serious condition, the parents are putting their trust in medical personnel to take for their loved one, believing that the matter will be taken care of and the child will regain his or her health.  One never expects something to go wrong — that the hospital or its staff will inadvertently or otherwise make matters worse.  But, unfortunately, sometimes the unthinkable happens.

Image Courtesy of Ryan M. Springer
Image Courtesy of Ryan M. Springer

Six year old Anna Cathryn Cooper was being treated in the pediatric intensive care unit at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center for serious complications from an E. Coli infection she contracted after attending a year end school party in 2011 when something went terribly wrong.  On May 9, 2011, the girl’s parents, John and Julie Cooper, were told by doctors that the medical staff would need to drain excess fluid from around Anna’s heart because it was affecting her blood pressure, causing it to drop.  The girl was already suffering from sepsis and kidney failure at the time the request was made.  

Moments later, a non-party doctor Sunita Bhandare frantically ran toward the parents and told them there was a serious problem.   Anna’s heart had been punctured during the procedure and the operating room team was doing chest compressions on her.  Anna’s father rushed into the room, and upon witnessing the scene, and motioned for his wife not to come in there.  However, Julie said she saw a gurney pass her, anyway, and a nurse giving her child oxygen.  John later recounted witnessing his daughter roll her head to the side, peering despondently at the door.  The girl was losing a tremendous amount of blood, and he noticed a large resident doctor  holding her chest open.  Then, he went into shock and was unable to move or speak.  Friends and family members had begun to arrive at the hospital, and he wasn’t coherent.  It wouldn’t be until later that evening that John revealed what he had witnessed to Julie and the two were able to discuss it.

Image Courtesy of
Image Courtesy of

The story was a shocking one.  The Second Circuit Court of Appeals took the statements of John, Julie and various family members present and ruled on February 15th that a lower court jury was correct to award the parents $25,000 each in bystander damages for the heart procedure gone wrong.  However, a new trial for the defendants should still be granted, according to Circuit Henry Brown Jr.  The defendants include Drs. Kamakshya Patra, Robert Jackson and Horacio D’Agostino, as well as the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport, and the LSU Medical Center Shreveport.  

The defendants were ordered to pay $370,000 to the defendants in total in the trial court. However, the defendants noted that this judgement is not aligned with Louisiana law with regards to awards of future medical expenses and medical malpractice judgments against state service providers.  Therefore, the attorneys appealed the ruling, stating that the judgment is “clearly contrary to the law and evidence” and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.


Parents Get ‘Bystander’ Damages for Daughter’s Punctured Heart

Court of Appeal, Second Circuit State of Louisiana


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