A.I. duPont Hospital and 13 Members of Medical-Surgical Team Named in Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed by Parents of Delaware Girl
NEWARK, Del., July 21 -- Four-year-old Ashley Resnick died in A.I. duPont Hospital for Children at 1:55 p.m., January 31, 2004, as the result of numerous medical mistakes -- including failure to administer the proper seizure-control medication -- on the part of her team of six doctors and seven nurses and the hospital, according to a wrongful death complaint filed in Delaware Superior Court by her parents.
According to the Complaint, Ashley, of Newark, Delaware, was hospitalized to undergo a routine orthopedic procedure on January 29, 2004.
Before entering the hospital, her family physician and her parents, Kimberly and Steve Resnick, told the medical-surgical team that Ashley needed a total daily dose of 20 mg of Valium, administered over three separate doses during her waking hours (typically between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.). This cumulative daily dose was vital to reduce the risk of dangerous seizures. Kimberly Resnick, prior to Ashley’s admission, completed hospital paperwork which included listing the proper Valium dosage of 20 mg daily.
Pre-admission records completed by duPont’s own nursing staff documented an incorrect Valium dosage of 20 mg administered three times a day (TID).
The family doctor, a neurologist, also said Ashley’s daily Valium dose should remain the same 20 mg before and following surgery, to avoid post-operative complications, such as seizures.
Tragically, accordingly to the Complaint, Ashley became the victim of a series of medical errors, including the improper ordering and administration of her Valium medication. Rather than ordering 20mg of Valium daily spread over three doses, the orthopedic resident serving on Ashley’s patient care team ordered that Ashley receive only 6mg of Valium daily (2mg every 8 hours).
Unbelievably, even this incorrect Valium order was not followed, as Ashley received only 8 mg of Valium during her 50- plus hour hospital admission, which was less than 20 percent of the medication she desperately needed.
The hospital also ignored an opportunity to correct the Valium medication error more than 37 hours before Ashley’s death. At that time, after Kim Resnick told one of the nurses about the continuing medication error, that nurse recorded in Ashley’s hospital chart that she made the orthopedic surgeon aware that Ashley received Valium three times each day, and not every 8 hours.
These failures caused Ashley to suffer severe drug withdrawal symptoms, including prolonged seizures, pneumonia, elevated heart rate, high fever, shortness of breath, and the pain that accompanied each of these symptoms.
Ashley died in her parents’ arms as they sang to her Ashley’s favorite song, “Happy Birthday.”
“The family is still in a state of shock and wants to do everything possible to ensure that what happened to their Ashley never can happen again to another child,” said Robert J. Mongeluzzi, whose law firm represents the family.
The medical records document a series of fatal mistakes regarding Ashley’s care. The most basic element of patient care and safety, correctly entering and following medication instructions from a patient’s primary physician, was mishandled by professionals entrusted with Ashley’s life.
The orthopedic surgeon who performed Ashley’s operation is among six physicians, including residents, named in the lawsuit, along with seven members of the nursing staff, the hospital and its affiliated businesses. Some of the nurse-defendants failed to administer ordered medication and, in one case, a nurse- defendant took home a key to the medical locker that contained the bubblegum-flavored Valium that Ashley had been prescribed by her family doctor and which her parents pleaded with the staff to administer.
“We begged the medical staff to give Ashley the right medication orders, the same procedure we had been following at home, and they ignored us. Instead, Ashley was being under- dosed and never received, until it was too late, the right dose that would have prevented Ashley’s seizures, incredible pain and suffering, and her death,” said Kim Resnick. “Our family doctor, who loved Ashley so deeply, in trying to explain what happened, told us that someone made a tragic mistake.”
The complaint details the negligent and improper actions of each of the individual defendants and the hospital.
Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, P.C. is dedicated to the representation of people who have been seriously or fatally injured. With offices in Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the firm specializes in highly complex cases, including those involving medical malpractice, catastrophic construction site and other workplace accidents, products and premises liability and civil rights. Its main office is located on the 52nd Floor of One Liberty Place in Center City Philadelphia. For further information call 215-496-8282 or visit http://www.smbb.com.
Editor’s Note: Photos and videos of Ashley Resnick, a pdf version of the complaint, and an illustrated version of the press release are also available upon request.
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