Most Louisiana parents can likely recall a time when their child was sick and they were challenged to use their best judgment in a very difficult and stressful situation. Typically, in the event of a health scare, parents also rely on a medical professional to provide expertise in making a decision about treatment. However, sometimes parents and professionals alike can make the wrong decision, and sadly, sometimes the results are tragic. Recently, a couple in another state settled for $750,000 in a wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit after their 14-month-old daughter died following treatment for croup at a federally qualified health center.
According to the lawsuit, in Jan. 2016, the mother took the infant to the health center with obvious signs of respiratory distress, a high fever and a barking cough. The lawsuit states that a physician’s assistant at the facility advised the mother to take the child home with a prescription rather than taking her immediately to a hospital emergency department. According to court documents, she did not provide appropriate care. Shortly after returning home, the girl stopped breathing and went limp. She was taken to hospital where medical staff told the parents if their daughter survived, she would be seriously impaired for life; five days later, she died of hypoxic brain damage.
In response to the lawsuit, the government stated that the physician’s assistant had acted appropriately in her care of the girl. She diagnosed the child with croup, but since she noted a regular heart rate, determined the child was not in acute distress. She told the mother to call if symptoms increased and symptoms to look for that would warrant a trip to a hospital emergency room. The government claims that further testing and/or a trip to an emergency department would likely have made no difference in the outcome.
These parents are devastated about the loss of their daughter, especially since they believe her death occurred due to the negligent care of the physician’s assistant who sent her home with a prescription when instead she should have been sent to a hospital emergency department. The mother has said that she trusted the medical professional with her daughter’s care, and she hopes her story will help other parents. Louisiana residents with similar stories may wish to consult with a medical malpractice attorney to discuss their legal options.