One of my readers (thanks to Tamie for sending the link to the Trials & Tribulations blog) sent me a link to the lawsuit brought by Nailah Winkfield (Jahi McMath's mother) against Children's Hospital Oakland and Dr. Frederick Rosen, Jahi's otolaryngologist. There are some rather interesting things in the complaint, so I thought I'd explore them a bit here.
Before I start, however, I'd like to remind everyone (including the unnamed troll) that the events and timelines in the complaint do not necessarily reflect reality. This is merely the family's version of the truth. It is a well-known fact that eyewitness testimony is often highly inaccurate, so while reading through the complaint this must be kept in mind.
Page three is where it starts to get interesting.
The end of page 2 states "In 2013, defendant ROSEN diagnosed JAHI McMATH with sleep apnea. ROSEN recommended a complex and risky surgery for sleep apnea which included the removal of her tonsils and adenoids (an adenoidtonsillectomy); the removal of the soft pallet and uvula or a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) and a submucous resection of her bilateral turbinates."
Immediately evident should be the fact that this was not a simple procedure as was often portrayed by the media. It wasn't even one procedure - it was three. Also evident should be the misspelling of "soft pallet" on line 2. A pallet is a platform or a crude bed. The palate is the roof of the mouth. While it may seem like I'm being awfully pedantic, this complaint is a legal document not a stupid blog post, so for fuck's sake make sure it's grammatically correct.
The complaint then explains how it is "usually recommended" to try CPAP before surgery for sleep apnoea, and if surgery is to be done, that it is "usually recommended" to remove the tonsils and adenoids first prior to the more extensive procedures. It then uses webmd.com as a source. I'm not sure if this is typical for legal complaints, but there it is. Maybe a lawyer can shed some light on this, but it seems rather amateurishly phrased.
Moving on to the meat of the document: the complaint.
Paragraph 11 of the complaint states that Jahi was taken to surgery at 3:04PM, and that despite Dr. Rosen noticing a "suspicion of medialized carotid on right", he failed to mention this to anyone, including the recovery room (PACU) nurses and paediatric intensive care (PICU) nurses. A medialised carotid artery is a congenital anomaly where the carotid artery doesn't run in a normal course. It is a known risk factor for catastrophic bleeding in patients undergoing tonsillectomy:
In paragraph 12, the complaint says that Jahi's parents were denied permission to visit Jahi, and after 30 minutes they "decided to enter the PICU to visit JAHI".
In paragraphs 13-15, the document details how Jahi's mother was first instructed to suction the blood from her mouth, then admonished for doing so, then admonished for not doing so after she stopped. While it's true that different nurses may do things slightly differently, I'll wait to read the nurses' notes before commenting further on this.
Paragraph 16 starts to get absurd. The complaint states that "the nursing staff at CHO did not appear to be contacting a physician since none was coming to her daughter's assistance". I can say with near certainty that a physician (either Dr. Rosen or one of the paediatric intensivists) was called at some point during this prolonged episode of bleeding. I can't imagine a series of nurses strolling by a bleeding 13-year old girl, handing her some paper towels and a Yankauer suction, and not calling either the surgeon or the intensive care doctor. Again, I'd have to see the nurses' notes to see who was called and when, but I don't believe this for one moment.
Paragraphs 17-19 detail Jahi's continued bleeding and ultimate code.
nasogastric tube is inserted and the stomach is "pumped". No such tube is placed into the lungs. This seems a specious and spurious claim.
The next few paragraphs explain what happened over the next few days after Jahi was declared brain dead.
And then paragraph 24 contains the almost laughable claim that was plastered all over the news. Supposedly when Jahi's mother met with Dr. David Duran, CHO's Chief of Paediatrics, he "began slamming his fist on the table and said, 'What is it you don't understand? She is dead, dead, dead, dead!'" I find it very difficult to believe that anything remotely resembling this farce happened. At all. I've met some pretty damned callous doctors in my day, but not a single one would ever treat a family like this, especially a family that just lost their 13-year old child.
The last thing I'd like to mention is that the complaint says she is dead, but also that she isn't. No, really:
There is more to the complaint, but nothing that I really feel needs to be shared or discussed.
The complaint is dated March 2, 2015, and the next phase of the suit (gathering of information) can take months or more. Regardless, I have a strong suspicion that the hospital and Dr. Rosen will both settle out of court, because I doubt anyone (except possibly the family and Chris Dolan) wants to see this dragged out in public again.
One last note: I am in no way saying that the actions of Dr. Rosen, the nurses, any of the other doctors, Nailah Winkfield, or Sandra Chatman, was right or wrong. I am not condoning or condemning anyone or anything. Whether anyone was actually at fault is still unknown. But what people tend to lose sight of in situations like these is actually the most obvious thing of all: the loss of Jahi was a tragedy, and something clearly went drastically wrong.