Lawsuit filed against hospital in baby's death

April 6, 2011 4:26:34 AM PDT
A couple has filed a lawsuit against a northwest suburban hospital in connection with the death of a baby born prematurely.

The baby was born last September at Advocate Lutheran General in Park Ridge.

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed by the child's parents, says the baby was administered a fatal dose of sodium by hospital staff 40 days after he was born.

The baby's parents were in the hospital with their son when he went into cardiac arrest and watched as doctors tried in vain to save him.

"It's just an incredible loss to us, the amount of hope, having a child, a future, and just losing that for really no good reason," said Cameron Burkett, father.

"I went through shock and denial," said Fritzie Burkett, mother.

The Burketts say they were excited to bring their first child home from the hospital just after Christmas. They named the baby boy Genesis.

Born several months premature, Genesis relied on IV tubes for food but was doing well. His parents say the prognosis was positive until the pharmacy at Lutheran General allegedly put 60 times the amount of sodium prescribed into his IV bag. He died several hours later of hypernatremia or excessive sodium.

The lawsuit alleges a series of mistakes that if avoided would have prevented their son's death. Their attorney says the actual lethal dose of sodium was labeled correctly on the bag and a doctor might have realized it was wrong. But for some reason, he says, the hospital placed a new label with the prescribed amount over the same bag.

"There was a series of errors, the most significant of which was the initial, sloppy infusion," said Patrick Salvi, attorney.

Officials from Lutheran General met with the family after Genesis died and they reportedly acknowledged their mistake. They issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying in part "This event has only heightened our focus on patient safety. We have taken comprehensive steps across the Advocate healthcare system to ensure this type of tragedy does not happen again. Our prayers continue to be with the family."