The parents of a newborn who died as a result of a pseudomonas bacterial infection at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville filed a wrongful death lawsuit today alleging the hospital knew of the contamination in its neonatal intensive care unit but did nothing to correct it and failed to warn families of the deadly outbreak. Matt Casey, a founding partner of Ross Feller Casey, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Zuleyka Rodriguez and Luis David Cepeda, the Hazle Township, Pa., parents of Abel David Cepeda. Abel was born at Geisinger on September 24 and died September 30. He was the last of three newborns to die from the pseudomonas bacteria outbreak at Geisinger. Five other newborns were also stricken. Four of them have recovered, and one is still undergoing treatment.
Abel lived his very few days on this earth in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) that was known by the hospital even before his birth to be contaminated by the infectious, waterborne bacteria.
“The tragic story set forth in today’s filing is a parent’s worst nightmare come to life. The health system to which baby Abel’s parents entrusted him failed to tell them that the health system knew, for approximately two months, of a dangerous, deadly bacteria in the very NICU where Abel was taking his first breaths. A dangerous, deadly bacteria that had already claimed the lives of two other babies and sickened several others,” said Casey, who is among the nation’s leading catastrophic injury attorneys.
Casey, who has a long record of litigating major medical malpractice cases against the Geisinger hospital network throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, filed the lawsuit today in the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas. The suit names as defendants Geisinger Medical Center, Geisinger Health System, Geisinger Clinic, Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre Gynecology/Obstetrics, and Geisinger Forty Fort - Maternal Fetal Medicine.
Some of the allegations in the lawsuit draw from statements made publicly by top Geisinger officials, including remarks from an Oct. 7 press conference held by the hospital.
One of the most disturbing revelations of the press conference, according to the lawsuit, was that Geisinger officials admitted that they recognized a “trend” of infections as far back as early August, yet they “negligently and recklessly chose to conceal the problem for months while continuing to send premature infants (like Abel, in late September) into the same NICU.”
The lawsuit also said that, without question, Abel's exposure to the bacteria and his resulting death "would have been easily avoided with adherence to some of the most basic and fundamental standards of care by Geisinger, GMC and its NICU staff.
"Had Geisinger and its medical staff prioritized the health and safety of its most fragile patients over its reputation and financial interests, as the standard of care required, Abel Cepeda would not have suffered the catastrophic injuries he did and he would not have died."
The lawsuit generated widespread media coverage.
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