Sleep studies are normally routine tests used to assess specific problems such as apnea. Rarely does a subject die as a result. Unfortunately for one Houston-area family, their nine-month old daughter suffered a fatal brain injury during the test and died two days later.
The girl entered the sleep study at Texas Children's Hospital to help physicians assess a genetic disorder she suffered from, which is called Prader-Willi syndrome. The disorder causes developmental delays in children. The sleep study involved monitoring the infant by way of electrodes and closed-circuit TV.
During the study, the mother noticed that her daughter was losing skin color and had become cold to the touch. The hospital staff was able to resuscitate the child after more than 20 minutes, but she had sustained a brain injury. She was placed on life support, but two days later, her parents consented to ending that support.
The infant's parents are now suing the hospital for negligence. According to their legal counsel, errors on the part of hospital staff led to the girl's death and various protocols that should have been followed were not. He says the girl's genetic disorder was not life-threatening and that she should have survived the sleep study if it had been properly done.
The family has requested a temporary restraining order to preserve video recordings of the study and seal off the treatment room and equipment for investigators. The hospital's attorneys agreed to the request, making the restraining order unnecessary.
Brain injuries can create enormous problems for patients and family members. Injuries caused by negligence are frequently addressed through personal injury lawsuits. This legal action can result in compensation to cover the victim's costs and expenses resulting from the accident. If the injury leads to death, surviving family members can file a legal action on the victim's behalf.
Source: Click2Houston.com, "Parents sue Texas Children's Hospital after infant daughter dies during sleep study," Phil Archer, April 15, 2014