Texas Couple Sue Nebraska Hospital Over Child’s Death

By MARGERY A. BECK | June 17, 2011

The parents of a child who died last year at Nebraska Medical Center after an overdose of blood thinner have sued the Omaha hospital, alleging that the mistake caused excruciating pain and the girl’s death.

Greg and Kenya Duque of Dallas filed the wrongful death lawsuit, which also names a dialysis center that provides nurses for Nebraska Medical Center, in Douglas County District Court on Tuesday. While the lawsuit does not specify the amount in damages sought, it does ask the court to declare unconstitutional a Nebraska law capping awards in hospital liability cases at $1.75 million.

Nebraska Medical Center officials acknowledged last year that an overdose of heparin contributed to the March 31, 2010 death of 23-month-old Almariah Duque, but said it may not have been the sole cause. Hospital spokesman Paul Baltes said Wednesday that neither he nor anyone else at Nebraska Medical Center could comment on the lawsuit.

The toddler was being treated for an infection and undergoing dialysis at the time of her death, following a liver, pancreas and small bowel transplant she received there in December.

The Duques’ lawsuit says Almariah’s condition had been improving when a nurse mistakenly gave the girl 10 times the amount of heparin she was supposed to receive over a five-hour period on March 29, 2010.

The overdose caused severe bleeding in the toddler’s brain, according to the lawsuit.

“This negligence caused excruciating pain during the next approximately 48 hours and as a result she ultimately died,” the lawsuit says.

Overdoses of heparin are believed to have caused dozens of deaths over the last several years. The problem led the Joint Commission – a private group that sets hospital standards and accredits most of the nation’s hospitals -to issue a safety alert in 2008 urging hospitals to adopt strict measures to prevent such errors.

Heparin is usually given intravenously and is used in heart surgery, kidney dialysis and a variety of other medical procedures.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.