Deaconess Gateway Hospital is at the center of a new lawsuit in connection with the death of an infant. The infant death case was filed by attorneys David Miller and George Barnett earlier this week in Federal Court on behalf of Amanda Moore and Braden Whitfield. The couple lost their seven-day-old daughter, Aerabella Whitfield at Deaconess Gateway in 2016 after the hospital failed to perform tests and provide adequate treatment that may have saved her life.
According to the suit, the couple is accusing Deaconess Gateway of failing to “conduct an adequate screening echocardiogram and to provide adequate treatment to stabilize Aerabella’s emergency condition” which the couple argues “led to, and was the cause of, her death from otherwise very treatable congenital heart defects.”
The infant was born on August 1, 2016, at St. Mary’s Hospital. A few days later, Moore took her daughter to the emergency room at Deaconess Gateway on August 4, 2016, when she grew concerned about Aerabella’s breathing. According to the suit, the infant’s “breathing was abnormal and rapid.” At the ER, Aerabella was “observed in the pediatric unit and then discharged the following day without a medical screen or appropriate treatment.”
However, the infant’s condition didn’t improve, prompting Moore to return to the ER a few days later. Immediately, Aerabella was re-admitted when doctors “identified the infant was suffering from a lack of oxygen supply and transferred her to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).” Unfortunately for Aerabella, a doctor wasn’t present in the PICU so nurses “provided an assessment over the phone to the doctor.” According to the suit, “nurses told the physician the screening indicated the child was fine.”
The nurses were wrong, though. Shortly after hanging up with the physician, the newborn went into cardiopulmonary arrest and all the resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful. An autopsy later revealed that Aerabella “had an enlarged heart” that the suit claims could have been treated. In fact, according to the complaint, “This type of congenital heart defect is one that is usually discovered during screening and surgically corrected in the neonatal period, usually within the first seven days of life, with a very low mortality rate.”
Unfortunately, issues like what happened to Aerabella and her parents happen all too often, and Barnett agrees. He said:
“We regularly hear about people who go to the ER/hospitals who have inadequate testing and inadequate or no diagnosis (and often no differential diagnoses which can be very important too), and they get an early discharge — before the patient has been properly screened, diagnosed and stabilized.”
Barnett took on the parent’s case soon after the infant’s death and has spent months gathering documents for the case, including coroner’s reports and medical records. His law office also “reached out to consulting experts to get various medical opinions.” Prior to filing the case against the hospital, Barnett shared his findings with Deaconess “in an effort to obtain a prompt resolution of this case without filing suit.”
After being alerted to the allegations, the hospital passed the “information on to a Houston-based company, Western Litigation, who never responded to the allegations.” With the two-year statute of limitations getting ready to run out, Barnett advised Aerabella’s parents to file the lawsuit.
How has the hospital responded to the lawsuit? Well, so far a spokeswoman for Deaconess said she can’t comment on the matter “due to the ongoing investigation.”