Legal Question in Medical Malpractice in Indiana

My twin infants who were born at 36 weeks, no abnormalities, obtained RSV while being cared for in St. Vincent Hospital (Carmel, IN). We were home for only 2 days before my daughter started displaying symptoms of RSV (turning blue during feedings, apnea). I took her to her pediatrician who said she had nasal congestion but lungs sounded clear and sent her home. The next day while breastfeeding, she had another episode which prompted another visit to the pediatrician. This time she was sent to Riverview Hospital to get a chest x-ray and blood work to look for infection. The test results showed some fluid around the pericardium, but she was sent home with no concerns. Next night, I was up with my daughter all night and eventually she stopped breathing and required CPR. She recovered and was rushed to Riverview ER where she was given a spinal tap and blood work looking for meningitis or sepsis. Her temp was 92.7 and O2 sats were in lower to upper 70's. She was placed on 2 L oxygen and then sent to St. Vincent's Children's Hospital (Indianapolis, IN). She was admitted with RSV. Next day, her brother was admitted to St. Vincent's Children Hospital with RSV and ended up in ICU where eventually he was intubated. While intubated, he required 2 blood transfusions to get better because nurses were drawing 2 mL of blood to waste before they drew a very small amount to test blood gasses (two times a day). This is in spite of knowing that his bone marrow was suppressed and not making new red blood cells. He was extubated only after 14 days only to be reintubated 3 days later for 9 more days. After extubation he was overdosed on Ativan....prescription was 0.2 mL and he was given 2.0 mL. Luckily i finally got to bring my baby boy home; however, he is now on an NG tube. I was told at the hospital that everything would resolve itselft within 6 weeks. We have been home for 10 weeks now and he is still on an NG tube. I have lost my job because i cannot go back until he is well as I am the primary care provider. At his GI appointment on April 19, 2012, I was told there is no need to do another swallow study because he cannot even swallow his own saliva without aspirating. There is speculation that damage has been done when he was intubated. My question is Do I have any legitimate claim for legal action?

Asked on 4/20/12, 1:19 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Jim Avery Avery Law Firm (NY-CO-IN)

Hello. I think the best answer to your question is 'maybe.' More facts are needed. RSV is the most common germ that causes lung and airway infections in infants and young children. Most infants have had this infection by age 2. Was there an RSV outbreak at the hospital during your child's stay? Moderate-to-large outbreaks are often reported in the local news and newspapers to provide parents with an opportunity to avoid exposure.

The drug Synagis (palivizumab) is approved for the prevention of RSV disease in children younger than 24 months who are at high risk for serious RSV disease. Where your children given this drug?

What are the long term consequences? The governing statute of limitations gives you up until the age of eight to file suit on behalf of the child.

Most malpractice cases require careful review of the facts and consultation with a physician or other health care provider to determine if standards of care were breached; however, anyone can file a claim with the Insurance Commissioner. See the I.C. website for more details if you desire.

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Answered on 4/20/12, 2:04 pm

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