An Oregon woman is suing Portland Adventist Medical Center and an individual nurse after her four-day-old son died. Monica Thompson is seeking $3.5 million from the nurse and $5.1 million from the hospital.
She claims they are responsible for her child’s death because the nurse put the newborn in bed with her at night to breast-feed while she was unsupervised and medicated with painkillers and sleep aids. The nurse is not named in the lawsuit, referred to as Nurse X.
Thompson seeks damages for the baby’s “desperation and anxiety” as he was suffocated and his mother’s “severe emotional distress upon unintentionally killing her firstborn child.” She also seeks compensation for counseling expenses for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. (The lawsuit is available online at: http://bit.ly/2xin3z0.)
The lawsuit includes the following allegation of the events:
“On the late evening of Aug. 5, 2012, Jacob was taken to the nursery so that Mrs. Thompson could rest before being discharged. During that late evening, close to midnight, Mrs. Thompson was given a combination of the narcotic painkillers and sleep aids.
“At approximately 3 a.m., Nurse X transferred Jacob from the nursery to Mrs. Thompson’s room to be breast-fed. Nurse X put Jacob next to his mother in her bed so that she could breast-feed him. Nurse X left the room and left mother and son unattended.
“About an hour later, still drowsy and groggy, Mrs. Thompson noticed her son was unresponsive in her arms. She called for a nurse while she tried to get him to respond. Mrs. Thompson tried to stimulate her son’s suckling reflexes without success. She touched his eyes and got no response. She poked him and talked to him with no reaction. When no nurse came to help, Mrs. Thompson carried her son to the hallway and frantically yelled for help. A nurse noticed the situation, examined Jacob, and called a Code Blue; Jacob was not breathing. Jacob was taken to a room where a Level II team worked on stabilizing his vital signs. Meanwhile, Mrs. Thompson saw her son being rushed away and had to remain in her room awaiting the outcome.”
The lawsuit cites several alleged failures by the defendants, including not putting policies in place to avoid leaving newborns with medicated mothers and for monitoring babies while with mothers. However, it also alleges that such policies were not followed if they existed, so it is not clear whether the hospital actually has such policies. The hospital has not released any statement on the pending litigation.