ER doctor sued in child's death

by Lawrence Smith |
Apr. 13, 2009, 6:00am

PARKERSBURG - An emergency room physician has been named as a defendant in the wrongful death of a Wood County child.

Sara Norman, as the administratrix of the estate of her daughter, Lainey McKenzee Alexis Norman, filed a lawsuit against Dr. Andrew Hughes in Wood Circuit Court on April 2. In her complaint, filed with the assistance of Parkersburg attorney William O. Merriman, Norman alleges that Hughes' failure to consult with other physicians after Lainey's initial visit to the ER led to the problem worsening, and her subsequent death.

According to court records, Norman, of Parkersburg, took Lainey to Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital on Jan. 3, 2007 because Lainey "had been repeatedly throwing up a green substance and was having trouble with bowel movements." Though Lainey's age is not stated, records indicate she was in infant because she was "not breast feeding a normal amount."

Following a chest x-ray and stomach ultrasound, Norman alleges Hughes "discharged the decedent without seeking any consultations or providing further care."

However, due to continued vomiting and other problems, Norman had to take Lainey for a return visit to C-CMH. On the second visit, Lainey was examined by Drs. Richardson and Whitaker who suspected sepsis, an inflammation of the whole body to a known or suspected infection, and bowel obstruction.

Nevertheless, Norman's suit states that Lainey was extremely ill, and had to be stabilized. Following her stabilization, she was transported via ambulance from C-CMH to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown.

While at RMH, Lainey "underwent several surgeries and procedures, "including an exploratory laparotomy that revealed a small bowel volvulus and total intestinal gangrene." Records show a subsequent surgery revealed a "non-survival bowel" requiring a total resection.

However, Lainey's conditioned worsened to the point where she experienced multi-organ failure requiring her to be placed on life support. She died on Jan. 7, 2007, after Norman made the decision to remove Lainey from life support.

In her suit, Norman alleges Hughes is negligent in Lainey's death for failing to recognize and diagnose "a bowel obstruction, despite a history of repeat episodes of vomiting a green substance, being lethargic and not eating well." The latter in an infant, Norman says, "is highly suggestive of a bowel obstruction and should have prompted a thorough search for its cause."

In addition to Hughes, who is a doctor of osteopathic medicine from New Carlisle, Ohio, Norman named Best Practices, Inc., a medical staffing company that serves as Hughes' employer, as a co-defendant.

She is seeking unspecified damages, costs and fees.

The case has been assigned to Judge Jeffrey B. Reed.

Wood Circuit Court, Case No. 09-C-167

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