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Family of child determined brain dead sue doctor, hospital

Losing a child is tough enough. To find out that it could have been entirely preventable is enough to make a parent see red. In these instances, it is natural for a parent to want to hold everyone involved accountable; from the physician who treated the child, to the nurses who were supposed to be checking vital signs, to the hospital that incorporated policies that eventually led to the child’s demise.

This is the scenario facing a California family who lost their teenage daughter after she was declared brain dead while on life support. The girl was undergoing treatment for sleep apnea when complications occurred that caused her heart to stop beating. 

The lack of oxygen to her brain ostensibly caused further damage, but it touched off a huge legal battle that led to a California judge determining that the child could be moved from a Bay Area hospital to a long-term care facility in New Jersey. In a surprising twist of fate, the girl’s mother reported to ABC News that she could respond to basic commands by moving her hands and feet.

Eventually, the family decided that it would bring suit against Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California for malpractice. An attorney for the family explained that they would be seeking unspecified damages, and that they believe that the doctor was negligent in treating the girl’s sleep apnea. They reason that if invasive surgery would not have been performed, chances are that the complications would have never occurred.

The hospital has not commented, as it has a policy not to comment on pending litigation. Nevertheless, it is an example of a doctor failing to use reasonable care in treating a patient. 

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