Newborn Brain Injury Due To Delayed Delivery
Lawsuit Against Saint Francis Hospital, Inc.
On April 18, 2023, WVFK&N attorney Sharon Morgan and Richard Martell filed a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a baby who suffered an avoidable brain injury.
The complaint alleges that the baby was born on July 1, 2018. She was a healthy infant at birth and remained healthy for the first five months of her life. On December 9, 2018, the mother brought the baby to the emergency room at St. Francis Glenpool. At the time, she had a three-day history of nasal congestion and cough and a one-day history of fever. Her temperature was measured at 38.3 C (100.9 F) and Tylenol was ordered. The emergency room provider did not suspect pneumonia or meningitis. The baby was sent home. On December 14, 2018, the mother brought the baby back to the emergency room at St. Francis Glenpool complaining of fever, vomiting, lethargy, and decreased urine output. Her temperature was measured at 38.8 C (101.8 F). Due to ongoing symptoms and the inability to establish an IV, the decision was made to transfer the baby to the main St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa. At 11:15 p.m. a temperature of 101.1 F was taken temporally. At 1:11 a.m. on December 15, 2018, a complete blood count test was taken. That test showed a white blood cell count (“WBC”) of 18.6, which is elevated beyond the hospital lab’s upper normal range of 15.0, and the differential showed absolute segmented neutrophils of 14.0, which is higher than the hospital lab’s upper normal range of 8.5. It is well established that an elevated WBC count indicates the body’s natural attempt to fight against an infection. A differential test or breakdown of the types of WBCs further reveals whether the infection is of a viral or bacterial nature. In this case the elevated WBC count with a higher-than-normal amount of segmented neutrophils was indicative of a bacterial infection, not a viral process, thus requiring any reasonably competent physician to order antibiotic treatment. At 2:23 a.m. on December 15, 2018, a pediatrician noted that there was a maximum temperature of 103.8. F. During the overnight hours, the nursing staff noted that the baby had a respiratory rate of 60 at 3:56 a.m. and a respiratory rate of 54 at 6:31 a.m. During the course of this hospital visit, the nursing staff took 6 temperatures, all of which were taken temporally rather than rectally. Those temperatures were 38.4° C (101.1° F) at 11:15 p.m. on December 14, 2018, and then on December 15, 2018: 37.1° C (98.8° F) at 12:27 a.m.; 36.8° C (98.2° F) at 1:29 a.m.; 37.6° C (99.7° F) at 2:34 a.m.; 37.7° C (99.9° F) at 3:56 a.m.; and 37.6° C (99.7° F). It is widely known among health care providers and registered nurses that temporal (forehead) temperature readings are lower than are oral or rectal temperature readings taken from the same patient at the same time. At 6:49 a.m. on December 15, 2018, in violation of the standard of care, the baby was discharged from SFH – Tulsa, without having been administered, or provided a prescription for antibiotics to treat a confirmed bacterial infection. On December 17, 2018, at 4:09 a.m., the baby presented again to the emergency department at SFH – Tulsa where she was seen again by the same pediatrician, who now noted “altered mental status” and that her mother noticed that “she seemed to be acting abnormally and was not moving well on the left side of the body.” The pediatrician performed a lumbar puncture during which she collected “cloudy and purulent” cerebrospinal fluid. PCR testing showed that the cerebrospinal fluid was infected with streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. The baby was found to be having clinical seizures in the emergency department. She was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, started on antibiotic therapy and was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit where her condition continued to worsen. By the time the baby was admitted on December 17, 2018, and received appropriate treatment, including antibiotics, the bacterial meningitis had caused permanent brain damage. The baby has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She suffers from severe cognitive delays as a result of the severe and permanent brain damage caused by meningitis. She is deaf and has cochlear implants. She is very limited in her ability to walk or to feed herself. She will require assistance in her activities of daily living for the remainder of her life.
The lawsuit alleges that the injuries were a result of the negligence of Saint Francis Hospital and its employees in failing to properly and timely respond to concerning clinical signs.
The action is pending in the District Court for Tulsa County, Oklahoma.