Oregon readers may be interested to know that the parents of a premature newborn recently amended a complaint filed against the hospital where their baby died to request punitive damages. The couple alleges that hospital negligence led to the loss of their child. They also allege that the hospital attempted to cover up the cause of his death.
Since the baby was born prematurely, he was hospitalized in the neonatal care unit. Even so, the baby's doctor said that the child was doing well and would be able to go home soon. Unexpectedly, the baby became ill with a digestive disorder. Just 43 days into his short life, he died from necrotizing enterocolitis, which is the digestive order he contracted while in the neonatal care unit.
Within two weeks of their son's death, two other babies in the same unit were given tests for salmonella. Both results were positive. The parents say that hospital personnel failed to test their child for the bacteria, and they believe that their son died as a result. They further claim that the hospital did not want to confirm that an outbreak of the bacterial infection was in the unit. The California hospital denies the allegations.
In order to prevail in their claims, the family will need to prove hospital negligence. Only then will the court consider an award of damages. If the court decides in favor of the parents, damages similar to those available under Oregon law may be awarded to the parents. A monetary judgment will never replace the child they lost, but it could help ensure that the circumstances under which their baby died never occur again.
Source: CBS Sacramento, "Lathrop Couple Sues Modesto Hospital Over Newborn's Death", Derek Shore, July 28, 2015