The parents of a 5-year-old Pierce County boy with cerebral palsy contend in a lawsuit that their child suffered fatal injuries because a medical facility negligently unhooked a machine meant to monitor important vital signs.
John Hogue and Lori Holy seek unspecified monetary damages from Pope’s Kids Place in a suit filed last week in Pierce County Superior Court.
They claim their son, Nickolas Hogue, knocked out his breathing tube Dec. 30, 2012, but no one at Pope’s noticed because staff members had disconnected an alarm that would warn them of such an occurrence.
“By the time someone realized Nickolas was suffocating, it was too late,” their lawsuit states. “He was rushed to the emergency department but had suffered irreparable brain damage.”
Hogue and Holy decided to remove their son from life support a few days later and he died. Pope’s is a nonprofit facility in Centralia that provides “comprehensive and integrated health and social services with a focus on children with special needs,” according to its website.
“When a death occurs, especially to a child, we are all saddened,” Pope’s executive director Frank Millwood said in a statement to The News Tribune. “Although this loss is very painful for all, especially for the parents, it did not result from any inaction or inappropriate action at our facility.”
Hogue and Holy placed their son at Pope’s after his need for around-the-clock care became too much for them to provide, their lawsuit states. The boy was connected to a breathing tube and was unable to communicate well, which made it “particularly important that he was monitored at all times,” Hogue and Holy said.
Instead, they contend, Pope’s staff members disconnected a device called a pulse oximeter because Nickolas, who could not control his body movements, frequently dislodged his breathing tube and set off the device’s alarm.
“Staff at Pope’s Kids Place became annoyed that the alarm would constantly go off, particularly at nighttime, and a unilateral decision was made to shut off Nickolas’ pulse oximeter alarm,” the lawsuit states. That led to deadly consequences, the suit contends.
“If Nickolas would have had the monitor on that night, staff would have been alerted to the problem, and his (tube) would have been replaced as easily as it was removed,” the lawsuit states. “Instead, staff could not be bothered with the false alarms, and they chose to shut off the alarm, leading directly to Nickolas’ tragic and preventable death.”Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/crime @TNTadam