Paramedic Negligence - Failure to Treat Infant with Febrile Seizures
The previously healthy ten month old plaintiff developed febrile seizures associated with a high fever. The parents called 911 to request an ambulance at their home. The 911 operator dispatched an ambulance as well as two local police cruisers. The ambulance got lost on its way to the home resulting in a thirteen minute delay in the response time. During that time, police from the town were at the home attempting to provide directions to the ambulance crew, which declined assistance.
Once at the home, the ambulance crew nonchalantly attended to the child who was suffering continuous seizures. On assessment, the child was noted to be hypoxic with a blood oxygen saturation of 78%. The ambulance team loaded the child into the ambulance and departed for the hospital. En route, the crew received an order from the medical control officer at the hospital to give the child Valium to control her seizures and reestablish proper breathing. The paramedic realized at that point that he had forgotten the key to the locked narcotics cabinet and therefore could not gain access to the necessary medication. A second ambulance was dispatched to the original ambulance’s station to pick up the narcotics key and intercept the first team en route to the hospital. There was an additional ten minute delay in the administration of Valium as a result of the forgotten key to the narcotics cabinet. By the time the child arrived at the hospital, she had been oxygen deprived for approximately forty minutes. She was eventually diagnosed with profound brain injury.
The minor plaintiff, who is presently five years old, is a spastic quadriplegic who is wheelchair bound and fed by a gastrostomy tube. She cannot communicate and dependant on others for all of her needs.
In discovery, it was determined that the negligent paramedic who prepared the ambulance run report had allegedly falsified a number of important items in the report, including the times of administration of medication as well as numerous vital signs.
The defendant claimed that any delay in the administration of seizure control medication did not change the outcome. They further contended that the minor plaintiff’s seizures were so severe that they could not be controlled in the pre-hospital setting. Defendant also argued that the minor plaintiff’s life expectancy was significantly less than the 55 year life expectancy which the plaintiffs claimed and that the cost of care of the minor plaintiff was significantly less than what the plaintiffs claimed.
Claims for the severe personal injuries were brought on behalf of the minor plaintiff and her parents for the medical malpractice of the ambulance attendants against the ambulance company only pursuant to G.L. c. 111, § 14. The law prohibits claims against emergency medical technicians individually but permits claims against the employer who may be held vicariously liable for the negligence of its employees.
This EMT malpractice case settled following two days of mediation in the capable hands of Boston attorney, John Fitzgerald.