Lawsuit: Medical mistakes led to boy's asthma death

September 26, 2011 4:15:08 PM PDT
A family is searching for answers in the death of a 7-year-old boy who died after suffering an asthma attack.

The family wants to know why Aaron Pointer was taken to three different hospitals in an 11-hour span.

Aaron had the asthma attack at his suburban home in September of 2010. His parents say officials at two hospitals told them they did not have the proper equipment to deal with his condition.

"He was a joy. He was the happiest kid I've ever seen. Ever," said Sharese Pointer, mother.

Pointer suffered from asthma. But it was controlled with his medication and nebulizer. On September 13, 2010, Aaron was having problems breathing, and his folks took him to St. James Hospital in Olympia Fields. He was there for a bit less than two hours, and he improved somewhat.

"He was fine, and they said they didn't have the right equipment to properly care for him, so they said they were going to transfer him to St. James in Chicago Heights," said Adarien Pointer, father.

Aaron was hospitalized there for over eight hours. The family says his condition worsened, and they were again told he'd have to be transferred, this time to St. Joseph's in Joliet - a 45-minute trip in rush hour traffic.

"At the hospital, they described him as stable, fine and alert, and he was just the oppositewhen the ambulance team arrived and described very vividly the fact that he was very unstable and they questioned whether he should be moved at all," said Joseph Miroballi, Pointer attorney.

Sharese Pointer was riding in the front seat of the ambulance as her son was being treated on the way to Joliet.

"And he looked at me and he waved and said, 'hi mommy,' and I said, 'hi,' and he told me that he loved me, and I told him I loved him too, and I didn't hear any more after that," she said.

Aaron's respiratory system shut down. The ambulance crew tried to insert a breathing tube, but it didn't work. Aaron later died at the hospital in Joliet.

A nurse who treated the second grader in the ambulance wrote a three-page narrative on what happened, and it raises questions about the transfers and communication.

"There was no reason to transport him to a hospital 45-minutes away when in fact there were multiple facilities closer, much closer including Christ Hospital and the University of Chicago," said Miroballi.

"I want all wrongs made right. I want whoever is responsible to come forward and take some responsibility for their actions," said Sharese Pointer.

The nurse's narrative reveals that among Aaron's last words were, "I am tired of breathing."

In a written statement, Franciscan St. James Health expressed sympathy to the Pointer family, while saying it would be inappropriate to respond to mal-practice allegations through the media. It does go on to say, "we are confident that facts of this case will show that throughout his entire time at Franciscan St. James, Aaron received the appropriate care and treatment."

The Pointers are covered by Medicaid. Asked whether the transfers may have been the product of insurance-based decisions, Miroballi says he has no evidence of that.

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