Confidential - Multi-million Settlement, Child Suffered Spinal Cord Injury Following Scoliosis Surgery.

On March 30, 2000, when she was only three years old, Caitlyn suffered debilitating spinal cord injury after she was allowed to pull a breathing tube out of her mouth. Caitlyn was born with an abnormally curved spine, a condition known as scoliosis, for which she was to undergo a series of corrective surgeries. Tragically, inattention to the basics led to catastrophic results for Caitlyn, results with which she and her sole parent must live with the rest of their lives. On the day before her injury, Caitlyn underwent surgery at a pediatric surgery center to help correct her scoliosis. The surgery went extremely well and Caitlyn was transferred that same day to the defendant hospital to stabilize fully after surgery. Caitlyn was on a respirator to help her stabilize, when she was transferred and, appropriately, she was restrained at the wrists with soft restraints to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit ("PICU"). Soft wrists restraints guard against a patient moving their breathing tube in reaction to discomfort it causes, a reaction that is known risk, especially among pediatric patients. As her anesthesia wore off, Caitlyn exhibited pain and anxiety, for which she was medicated.

Despite being on a respirator, despite her very young age, and despite her developing pain and anxiety, the soft restraints guarding Caitlyn's wrists were removed within hours of her arrival in the PICU.

Early in the morning after her surgery, shortly after waking up, Caitlyn pulled out her breathing tube. Nothing restrained her and no one watched her at the time. Caitlyn immediately stopped breathing and her heart stopped beating. Caitlyn was resuscitated, but not before she suffered permanent damage to her thoracic spinal cord from oxygen deprivation.

The effects of Caitlyn's injury have been devastating. Caitlyn must live with a complete T-1 spinal cord injury - complete loss of motor function below the level of her nipples - with no expectation of any neurological recovery. Although the surgeries to straighten her spinal cord have gone very well, Caitlyn has lost the use of her legs permanently and must use a wheelchair. She is at risk for, among the consequences of her spinal cord injury, pulmonary complications, urologic complications, gastrointestinal complications, and life-threatening autonomic hyperreflexia. Caitlyn cannot control either her bladder or her bowel functions. Her future medical needs exceeded $4 million. A confidential multi-million dollar settlement was reached after two mediations and shortly before trial.

The Keefers were represented by member Stewart J. Eisenberg, Esquire and Brian C. Hall, Esquire.