Parents sue hospital that gave wrong drug

By Brian Skoloff Associated Press Posted August 21, 2009  

A pregnant woman was mistakenly given a drug that quickens labor. She and the father are now suing because their baby is brain-damaged as they struggle to pay medical bills that have topped $3.5 million.

  WEST PALM BEACH — A hospital mistakenly gave a pregnant woman a drug commonly used to speed up labor, causing her to give birth two months early and severely injuring the baby, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.   The suit was filed against St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach; its owner, Dallas, Texas-based Tenet Healthcare; and several nurses, doctors and pharmacists.   The plaintiffs, Tesome Sampson and Frank Guy, claim medical bills for their brain-damaged baby have now topped $3.5 million. The lawsuit claims St. Mary’s and the other defendants were negligent in administering the wrong drug. It seeks unspecified damages.   In a statement, the hospital acknowledged the error and said steps have been taken to keep it from happening again.   “On Sept. 4, 2008, a patient came to St. Mary’s in extremely premature labor. Due to a medication error, the patient was given medication to speed up her labor instead of medication that attempts to stop premature labor. Ultimately, the baby was born and suffered brain damage,” the statement said. “This was an unfortunate error that occurred despite the safeguards we have in place. . . . We apologized to the family for this deeply regrettable error.”   The couple’s attorney, David Kelley, said Sampson was admitted to St. Mary’s on Aug. 25, 2008, when she was 24 weeks pregnant. Doctors put her on bed rest to avoid early delivery.   Ten days later, Kelley said, she was given the wrong drug. The medication, Prostin E2, is approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration for the termination of pregnancies and for expelling uterine contents after a fetus dies and is often used to speed up labor.   A few hours after being given the drug, Kelley said the woman suffered severe cramps and was told she needed to have a bowel movement. She was given a portable toilet, and delivered the baby into the container, according to the lawsuit.   The baby girl was two months premature. She is now hospitalized with “profound brain damage,” Kelley said. “This is the most horrific case I’ve handled,” he added. “It is absolutely outrageous and I think requires a criminal investigation.”

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