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  • Medical Malpractice – Failure To Diagnose Infant’s Metabolic Crisis And Prevent Stroke: Burrell v Lakeland Hospital, St. Joseph

Sommers Schwartz attorney Matthew Turner filed a medical malpractice suit on behalf of an infant who suffered extensive neurological damage following a metabolic stroke while in the defendants’ care.

According to the complaint, the infant had been diagnosed with Glutaric Aciduria Type-1 (GA-1), a rare enzyme disorder that results in the abnormal metabolism of protein. Children’s Hospital of Michigan (CHM) managed the health of the child, who was on target developmentally. Around the age of nine months, the infant was seen in the defendant Lakeland Hospital’s emergency room with a 102-degree fever, congestion, and vomiting. She was diagnosed with acute bronchiolitis and discharged. Two days later, the mother – concerned the infant may be entering a metabolic crisis due to poor oral intake – returned to the ER. The defendant ER physician contacted the CHM metabolic team, admitted the infant to the hospital, and placed the infant under the care of the defendant hospital pediatrician. The pediatrician ordered the infant be given fluids intravenously, hoping to discharge her the next day.

The infant’s health continued to decline, and the mother called CHM, which contacted the defendant with instructions. Additional lab work was performed, but no physicians evaluated the infant further and no orders were given to watch for signs of a metabolic crisis. A feeding tube was then inserted yet no instructions were given to watch for symptoms of a metabolic crisis. At one point when the line became occluded, directions were given to “leave it out for now.” The line was not replaced, no instructions were entered to monitor the infant’s caloric or protein intake, and no calls were made to CHM for additional instructions.

After six days in the defendants’ care, the infant had become weak and was experiencing rapid respirations. The decision was made to transfer the infant to Bronson Hospital. The move was delayed, and when the infant finally arrived at Bronson, she was extremely lethargic. An intravenous line was placed by Bronson staff without difficulty. An MRI showed the infant had suffered a metabolic stroke, and she was transferred to CHM in Detroit, where she remained in rehabilitation for nearly two months.

Because of the metabolic stroke, the infant is now dependent on gastric-tube feedings, is developmentally delayed, and has persistent dysphagia with impaired swallowing. These deficits will require continuous physical, occupational, and speech/language therapies for the infant to maintain baseline skills and prevent neurological regression.

The professional negligence lawsuit alleges that the defendants’ failure to follow the applicable standard of care caused the infant’s condition to deteriorate. Had the appropriate protocols been followed, her condition likely would not have progressed to a metabolic crisis and she would not have suffered a metabolic stroke.

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