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May 2, 2003     Cape Gazette
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-H Judgement Continued from page 1 formed the autopsy] said this was a sudden catastrophic event that could not have been anticipated by the emergency room staff that day," said Allen. Beebe Medical Center is sup- porting Sussex Emergency Associates. 'Whey're board-certi- fied physicians, and we continue to have every confidence in them," said Sharon Harmon, pub- lic relations specialist. The jury found the team negli- gent in its care because it released the child from the hospital too soon. Ventura took her 18-month- old daughter, Angie, to the A.I. duPont clinic in Georgetown Feb. 17, when her daughter became ill. The next day, she took the baby to Beebe, complaining the child was still vomiting and had diarrhea. Allen diagnosed her with viral gastroenterifis. He said no one in the depart- ment saw the child vomit during her visit to Beebe. "She was treat- ed in the department by standard protocol - IV fluids for dehydra- tion - and testing was done," said Allen. Her vital signs improved. "It was noted by four people that she could take liquids by mouth. They were all convinced she was in good shape, and she was smil- ing." Allen said the parents were instructed to return to the hospital if there was any more vomiting or diarrhea. The next morning, the girl went into sudden cardiac arrest. Because the family had neither a phone nor a car, Ventura ran into the street with her baby cradled to her, and a passerby took her to Beebe, said Allen. From there, she was flown to A.I. duPont and subsequently to Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. Those hospitals attempted to save her, including surgery, but the girl died Feb. 23. "We felt terrible about what hap- pened," said Allen. Ventura's attorney, Eric M. Doroshow, filed suit against Allen Body Works and Britting ham in 2001. He claimed the baby endured pain and suf- DOROSHOW feted for about a day, and Ventnra suffered and continues to suffer mental anguish over the loss of her child. The jury awarded $700,000 for pain and suffering, and $5,950,000 to Ventura for her anguish. However, at the onset of the case, Doroshow struck an agreement with St. Paul Insurance, which held the Sussex Emergency Associates malprac- flee policy. He said representa- tives agreed that in the event a verdict was less than $75,000, Ventura would get at least that same amount. It also set an upper limit cap of $750,000 regardless of the jury's verdict. Allen said what was most dis- turbing about the jury's deci- sion is experts during trial addressed the issue of death via dehydra- tion, the symp- toms for which the child did ALLEN not display. With severe dehydration, he said, a patient would progressively become more lethargic and slip into a coma. Angle Ventnra didn't do that. "The child didn't slip into lethargy," said Alien. Instead, she suddenly collapsed in her moth- er's arms. What was at issue dur- ing the eight-day trial, said Doroshow, was whether the baby should have been released from the hospital during the fwst visit. "She was very badly dehydrated," said Doroshow. "What we learned is babies are very fragile," said Doroshow. He said his expert witnesses - a Maine physician, New Jersey physifian and Pennsylvania nurse practitioner- said the standard of care is to at least keep a child that small for observation, because dehydration is so serious for young children. 'Whey all said the standard of care was breached." "The jurors were very con- cemed with the poor record keep- ing," said Doroshow, noting some of Brittingham's notes contained conflicts. "And there were some late charting entries." CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, May 2 - May 8, 2003 - 19 "The record keeping was atro- cious," said Allen, "but-we learned something." What causes a dilemma for practitioners, he explained, is how to take notes simultaneously while treating patients. "In emergency medi- cine, our job is to take care of peo- ple," he said. "By necessity, we have to treat first and document later." In addition to his bafflement over the jury's judgment, Allen expressed concern - on behalf of many physicians - that such judg- ments are the cause of many physicians on the East Coast leav- ing their practices. 'whe size of this settlement - it is the reason medicine is slowly sinking. A few more cases like this, and there will be no more malpractice insur- alice." St. Paul Insurance, which repre- sented Sussex Emergency Medical Associates, has already left Delaware. Numerous physi- cians in Pennsylvania have left that state to practice elsewhere, have retired or have stopped per- forming high-risk procedures. 30 Minute Fitness & Weight Loss Mon. - Frl, 7am-8pm Sat. 7am-lprn Five Points Plaza next to Comcaxt 302-644-7292 Crisis Continued from page 9 t.ion of a two story building and purchasing of new ambulances contributed tO the financial hard- ship of Mid-Snssex. Simpson did note that he is aware that in these economically lean times, fire companies have neglected to re- place old equipment and are run- ning older models ambulances that have already been paid for. "Fire companies are housed in buildings that are paid for, too," Simpson said. "We don't know yet why Mid-Sussex has run out of money to operate, but the audit should help us discover the rea- sons. "Until then, all we can do is guarantee the people that Mid- Sussex serve that their ambulance service will not disappear if Mid- Sussex goes under." "The state fire service has al- ready said they will see to it that ambulance service remains for the people of Long Neck. We just don't know yet how that will be done,"said Bunting. BLy pediatrics Jim Ippolito A PROVEN LEADER WITH VISION DEDICATED TO PROGRESS THROUGH PLANNING e GROWTH Jim has the track record to represent our best interests at DNREC, DELDOT, the county and the state. ENVIRONMENT Jim comes with a history of taking a proactive role in preserving the green space and the character of Lewes. TAXES Jim wants to keep Lewes residents. affordable for all VOTE JIM IPPOLITO FOR LEWES CITY COUNCIL MAY 10 FROM 8 AM TO 6PM Paid for by rie of Jim Ippolito I U[I[ H i i