Family of Child Declared Brain Dead Sues Hospital

By Greg Kohn

What legal rights do you have if doctors are negligent in recommending and carrying out a risky procedure?

When a child is suffering from a serious ailment, doctors will often look for a solution that will solve the problem for the rest of the child’s life and/or reduce his or her exposure to medical procedures in the future. Although this is a common approach, it is not always the best, as it can lead to riskier procedures. That is what seems to have happened to 13-year-old Jahi McMath in 2013.

McMath was suffering from sleep apnea when doctors at California’s UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital evaluated her. These doctors recommended that she undergo surgery to remove her tonsils, adenoids, soft pallet, uvula and bilateral turbinates. This procedure was characterized as risky because it was usually the practice of doctors to try a CPAP machine and/or remove the child’s tonsils and adenoids first before moving on to the other areas. The doctors proceeded anyway and during surgery found that McMath was at an increased risk for hemorrhage. At some point after the surgery, McMath began to bleed.

The family claims that doctors failed to communicate McMath’s increased risk of bleeding to the departments that would be taking care of her after surgery. They also allege that the doctor that performed the surgery, Dr. Frederick Rosen, failed to make himself available to treat McMath at this time and that nurses were inconsistent in their recommendations and course of treatment.

As a result, McMath lost a large amount of blood and her heart stopped for a prolonged period of time causing brain death. She was declared dead at this time pursuant to California regulations. The family then fought to keep the child on life support and eventually obtained a restraining order to prevent the hospital from pulling the plug. They then had her moved to New Jersey where she is considered to be alive even though she has no brain function.

The family is suing the hospital and Dr. Rosen for negligence, medical malpractice and emotional distress. They are seeking monetary damages for their losses.

If you or someone you love has been affected by medical malpractice, you need a skilled lawyer by your side. Contact the New Jersey personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers at Nagel Rice for a consultation today.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.