Medical Error Leaves Baby Michael Unable to Speak, Walk
Every year, 440,000 Americans die as a result of preventable medical errors, and countless more are injured. Instead of working to improve patient safety, states across America have already passed or are considering legislation that would shield those who have caused these errors at the expense of the injured patient. The next time someone advocates for limiting the rights of injured patients, tell them about baby Michael.
In Cheshire, Connecticut, Michael and his twin Matthew were born prematurely, but otherwise the bouncing baby boys were deemed healthy on all accounts. As is usual, the twins were placed in the neo-natal care unit, so that they could continue developing while being monitored.
Soon after, Michael began to develop breathing problems and jaundice. About 60% of babies born in the U.S. have some form of jaundice, and it is easily treatable. Normally doctors use lights for “phototherapy” near the babies and it clears right up.
However, despite Michael’s jaundice, lights were not used. Even after Michael’s jaundice elevated beyond the hospital’s allowable written polices, no one noticed and he was left in the dark. Though easily treatable, when jaundice in infants goes untreated it can turn into a devastating illness causing severe cerebral palsy.
Michael is now bound to a wheelchair, chronically weakened, incapable of intelligible speech, and has limited eye movement. He will never walk or speak.
When lawmakers are considering provisions that limit the rights of patients – remember that it limits Michael’s family’s ability to hold health care providers accountable for what happened to their son. It makes us all less safe, when no one is accountable for the care they provide.
Lawmakers should work to improve patient safety and not limit the rights of those suffering from a medical error. American families deserve better; Michael deserves better.