A North Carolina couple is suing the Greenville Health System in South Carolina, as well as a doctor, two medical service providers, and a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse for profound and permanent injuries they alleged were inflicted on the couple’s premature newborn son.
According to WYFF NBC-4, the baby suffered from six broken ribs, bleeding on the brain, and retinal hemorrhages after being in the care of one nurse in particular. Although she was not charged criminally, she was fired. An internal investigation uncovered another prior case in which an infant in her care wound up with a broken arm. She had blamed that injury on the baby’s mother, whom she said was careless in dressing the child.
Now, the parents of this baby say he has been left with profound and potentially permanent physical and mental disabilities as a result of wrongdoing and negligence by the hospital staff.
The child in question, the third for this couple, was born via Cesarean section in April 2015 at just 30 weeks gestation (which is 10 weeks too early). He was admitted to the NICU in Asheville. However, about two months later, he became very ill as a result of digestive issues and had to be transferred to a better-equipped facility. Doctors recommended a hospital in Charlotte, but the couple wanted to be close to their other two children, so they chose Greenville.
Over the course of several days, the baby’s feeding and general health improved greatly. His family stayed nearby at a local Ronald McDonald House and spent their days in and out of the hospital.
As the time was nearing for him to be brought home, the family began making preparations. One afternoon, they left with their two younger children to go to a meal, intending to return to see the baby afterward. However, when they did return, they found the child was inconsolable. A nurse who had been in charge of his care told the baby’s mother the baby had been banging his head on the side of his bassinet. As later noted in the complaint, this would have been impossible because the child, at 41 weeks of gestational age, did not have the control or strength to pick his head up and bang it.
From there, the child’s health began to decline rapidly. They expressed their concerns to a physician, whom they said dismissed them and refused to conduct testing, despite their repeated requests. The parents said they also asked for a primary nurse for the child but were denied this request.
They said the nurse who had taken care of the boy encouraged them to go ahead and take him home against the advice of the doctor. They now believe this advice was to help conceal the source of his injuries.
Finally, three weeks after that evening, a chest x-ray revealed the full extent of the child injuries that he had suffered: broken ribs, massive bleeding on the brain, and retinal hemorrhages in both eyes.
There was no medical explanation for these injuries. Police launched an investigation and cleared the parents. The investigation is reportedly still ongoing.
The plaintiffs allege the diagnosis was delayed for so long that the child is now at risk for serious future developmental delays and long-term cognitive disabilities. They are seeking compensation for past and future medical bills and pain and suffering.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Couple to file suit alleging GHS NICU nurse seriously injured infant, Nov. 17, 2016, By Carla Field, WYFF NBC-4
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