New Jersey readers likely remember a news story that has been resurfacing for the past year or so. It concerns a 13-year-old girl who suffered severe brain damage after a controversial surgical procedure in California.

In addition to the allegations of medical malpractice that led to the girl’s vegetative state, the story made national news because of disagreements over whether she should have been taken off life support. The girl is currently being cared for at a hospital in New Jersey.

The parents of the teenager are now pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the California hospital and the surgeon who performed the procedure to treat the girl’s sleep apnea. The accusations are numerous. They include allegations that:

  • The surgical procedure was recommended before trying less invasive and less risky measures to treat sleep apnea
  • The surgeon found a risk factor for serious hemorrhaging but failed to relay this information to the post-anesthesia care unit
  • The nurses attending to post-operative care were giving conflicting advice on how to treat the girl’s episodes of bleeding
  • After the girl’s heart stopped for up to 30 minutes, she was declared brain dead and a death certificate was issued
  • There is disagreement over whether the girl is or was actually brain dead, and the family had to obtain a restraining order to prevent the hospital from terminating life support
  • The hospital pressured the family to donate the girl’s organs during the confusing and traumatic aftermath of the ordeal

As in many cases of alleged medical malpractice, the family may be seeking answers and basic respect in addition to compensation. The attorney representing the plaintiffs said that “the lack of concern for [the girl] was startling. The (hospital) administration treated the family terribly after the fact. They gave them no explanations about what happened and had no compassion or respect for the family. The hospital needs to review and fix their practices about surgeon’s orders to recovery nurses. It needs to learn to be more open and transparent when there is an adverse event.”

Source: NJ.com, “Family of N.J. girl declared dead files malpractice suit claiming hospital pressured them for organs,” Dave Hutchinson, March 6, 2015