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Medical miracle or medical malpractice?

Parents in Louisiana may agree there is nothing as gut-wrenching as the thought of losing a child. Imagine that an individual's child is pronounced dead -- but the body never cools off and there is no sign of rigor mortis. Imagine the parents fighting with doctors and staff to reevaluate their child that has already been pronounced dead. Imagine the consequences of an instance of medical malpractice in which a child is prematurely, and incorrectly, pronounced dead.

This nightmare was reality for one set of parents as they refused to accept their seven-year-old son was dead after he was pronounced no longer living. They argued that the body was still warm and that there was still movement. The young boy's chest never ceased moving but doctors explained this as a side-effect of one of the medications they gave the boy in their attempts at resuscitation -- that this phenomena was not uncommon.

The seven-year-old child was the victim of a stroke at the age of two. This stroke left him with brain damage and necessitated a ventilator to assist the boy with breathing. The boy's mother, who cared for the child in their home, called 911 when the child's ventilator began issuing a beeping sound.

Upon arrival at the hospital doctors determined the boy already sustained cardiac arrest for over 25 minutes. Doctors worked to revive him but eventually they gave up and pronounced the child dead. The boy's parents had their doubts and were persistent in their questioning of staff.

Finally, hours after the boy was pronounced dead, a pulse was discovered. An ultrasound was conducted to confirm the presence of a heartbeat. Doctors were calling it a miracle, but the boy's parents thought otherwise. They are rightfully upset that they had to advocate the continued monitoring of their beloved child.

The child remains in critical condition. This begs the question of what sort of state the boy could be in if events occurred otherwise. What if doctors had tried longer? What if the child's parents weren't persistent? Could this happen in Louisiana? Among an endless series of questions: What kind of compensation is this boy and his family entitled to for their suffering and damages?

Source: ABC 7 news, "Heartbeat, pulse found after boy pronounced dead," Sarah Schulte, Feb. 22, 2012

1 Comment

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