Parents sue Texas hospital and physicians following their daughter’s death.
On Sept. 2, 2019, Ivanna Saucedo passed away after being admitted to El Paso Children’s Hospital in Texas. Her parents, Mariana and David, have filed a lawsuit against the hospital and two doctors alleging their child’s death was the direct result of negligent care.
Ivanna had previously been diagnosed with hydrocephalus, fluid buildup in the brain, while her mother, Mariana, was still pregnant, but she was otherwise healthy. Hydrocephalus occurs in two of 1,000 births in the U.S. and children who are diagnoses early can be expected to live a full life with a few surgeries over the years.
“We miss Ivanna dearly,” David Saucedo, a previous city mayoral candidate and appointee to the Texas Board of Nursing, said. “We are doing this for our community because we don’t want any more children to die, and we certainly don’t want any more parents to live through (a child’s death).”
The complaint states that on Aug. 29, 2019, Ivanna began vomiting at home and her parents took her to the practice of Roberto Canales, MD, an El Paso physician. Canales, however, said that the child needed emergency medical care and instructed the family to go to El Paso Children’s Hospital. Afterwards, he said, he would follow up.
“At the hospital, staff abruptly moved the Saucedos from the emergency department to a room on the hospital’s ninth floor,” according to the complaint. Staff then explained, according to Ivanna’s parents, that “Canales would arrive shortly, and that only he could treat Ivanna.” They pleaded for their daughter to get medical attention as she took a turn for the worse throughout the night but were continually told that they had to wait for the doctor to treat her.
“Twelve hours later, Ivanna went limp and turned blue, and began to foam from the mouth,” the complaint states. Only at that point did “the emergency trauma team finally agreed to treat Ivanna, sedating her and transporting her to the pediatric intensive care unit.”
Canales arrived after 9 a.m. on the second day, and he and another doctor named in the complaint, Rodolfo Fierro-Stevens, MD, told David and Mariana that Ivanna would be okay. Yet, “Ivanna’s previously inserted shunt – a drainage device commonly used to treat hydrocephalus – had malfunctioned,” their suit reads, and “Canales and hospital staff failed to recognize a common complication of shunt placement and hydrocephalus, and misdiagnosed Ivanna’s condition as hypoxic stroke.” Soon after, she was declared deceased.
The complaint further claims, “Canales is unqualified and untrained in the area of pediatric intensive care medicine” and that “Ivanna’s death was also caused by policies and procedures at El Paso Children’s Hospital put in place to accommodate and entice Canales to do business with the hospital in exchange for millions of dollars of revenue and massive amounts of patients” for the physician…When bringing the well-known physician on board, the hospital sought an exemption to allow him to practice pediatric intensive care medicine. Directors and physician managers refused to provide the exemption, (but) the hospital allegedly threatened those doctors with termination.”
Even though the hospital’s bylaws require all physicians to be board certified in their field of work and Canales claimed to be a “specialist in general pediatric medicine, pediatric intensive care medicine, hematology, and oncology,” his credentials were overlooked. “Canales has no formal board certifications, credentialing and/or training in the latter three areas.”
A hospital spokesperson responded to the lawsuit filed after the child’s death by stating, “El Paso Children’s Hospital is focused on providing high quality outcomes for the most vulnerable patients in El Paso and the surrounding community. Our number one goal is to provide safe, quality care to all our patients.”