Plaintiffs claim medical negligence caused infant death

Catherine Melancon Nov. 15, 2012, 4:00am

Todd J. Bialous

BATON ROUGE – Parents of an infant son are suing a Baton Rouge hospital and many of its pediatric doctors on wrongful death claims.

Neiman Doyle and Tiffany Jefferson, on behalf of their infant son, filed suit against Louisiana Medical Mutual Insurance Company, William Andrew Loe, Jr., John B. Lopoo, Jr., Erika Baier Rabalais, Natalie Ball Evans, Shaun M.C. Crossen Kemmerly and Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in the 19th Judicial Court on Nov. 7.

The plaintiffs claim that on July 12, 2009, their son was admitted to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center with suspected bronchiolitis secondary to aspiration.

The four-month-old baby also had severe gastroesophageal reflux disease. On July 21, 2009, the baby underwent a laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication and gastronomy tube placement by Loe, a pediatric surgeon. After the surgery, the baby's fever spiked, but a CT scan showed normal limits and his blood cultures were negative. He was discharged on July 26, 2009, after making adequate progress, the suit says.

Later that night, the plaintiffs brought their son back to the emergency room with a 102-degree fever. He was readmitted, but a gastrograffin study failed to show abnormality related to the gastronomy tube.

On July 28, 2009, the physicians noted an elevated white blood cell count of 21,700, the suit says.

Doctors initiated fever protocol, ran multiple tests and administered antibiotics. On July 30, 2009, the baby had methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus Aureus in his bloodstream, the suit says.

His antibiotics were switched to treat sepsis. Ten days after his surgical procedure, the baby suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest. Efforts were made by the pediatric intensive care providers to revive the patient, but he was pronounced dead about an hour later, the suit says.

The autopsy reports revealed an abscess surrounding the gastroesophageal junction with necrotic muscle and organizing hematoma, the suit says.

Loe and Lopoo, pediatric surgeons, and Rabalais, Evans and Kemmerly, pediatric hospitals, are accused of negligence, breaching the standard of care, failing to properly treat their patient, failing to timely treat, failing to properly diagnose and failing to rule out a surgical site infection.

Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center is accused of negligence, breaching the standard of care, failing to monitor and document the child's condition and report changes in his condition to his physicians and failing to monitor the minor child as required by hospital protocols.

The plaintiff alleges she left her minor child for a brief period, while he was still alive, in the care of a hospital nurse who accepted that responsibility. Upon her return, Jefferson claims the nurse was not in the immediate area and noticed her son was not moving or breathing.

The plaintiffs assert that more likely than not, their son would have recovered from this treatable condition if it was investigated and diagnosed in an adequate and timely manner.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought for the baby for severe mental anguish, physical pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and unnecessary medical expenses and treatment. The plaintiffs are also seeking compensation for severe emotional injury, mental anguish, wrongful death of their son, loss of society and services and loss of consortium.

The plaintiffs are represented by Todd J. Bialous of Bialous Law Firm, LLC in New Orleans.

The case has been assigned to Division F Judge Timothy Kelley.

Case no. 616739.

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