Parents sue Texas Childrens Hospital after infant daughter dies during sleep study

By Phil Archer - Reporter

HOUSTON - Last Thursday Quyen Hasenmyer checked into Texas Childrens Hospital's West Campus with her 9-month-old daughter Violet for a routine sleep study. Two days later, she and her husband made the difficult decision to take the infant off life support and allow her to die.

What happened to cause the infant 's death? This question is at the center of a lawsuit filed by the Hasenmyers asking that the hospital be forced to pay more than a million dollars in damages.

The family's lawyer, Rob Kwok, contends the hospital was negligent.

"This sort of thing is not supposed to happen, so there were clearly some errors, clearly some protocols not properly followed in this case, Kwok said. 

The little girl was undergoing a sleep study as part of her treatment for a rare genetic disorder called Prader-Willi Syndrome, which causes poor growth and delayed development in children, according to Kwok. But he insists the girl's pre-existing condition was not life-threatening.

The sleep study involves attaching electrodes to a patient to monitor brain and body functions while sleeping. The patient's vital signs are monitored by a technician who can also observe the patient by way of a closed circuit camera.

According to the lawsuit though it was the girl's mother who first noticed her daughter lose skin color and and her body turn cold. She then called for help.

According to Kwok, hospital staff worked for 22 minutes to successfully resuscitate the child, but discovered she'd suffered massive brain injury. Her parents consented to disconnect her from life support April 12.

"It was a terrible decision for this family to have to make. Something which never should have happened." Kwok said.

The family went to court Tuesday to request a temporary restraining order requiring the hospital to preserve any video recordings of the incident, and any equipment used in the girl's treatment and to seal off the room where she was treated until defense experts can examine it.

Attorneys for the hospital agreed to the family's requests during the hearing making the temporary restraining order unnecessary, according to Kwok.

The hospital issued the following written statement Monday saying:

"Our thoughts are with the Hasenmyer family as they grieve the loss of their child. We have pulled together a team to thoroughly review and assess this case. At Texas Children's Hospital, the care and safety of our patients is our top priority and we continually strive to achieve this vital mission. Due to patient privacy, we are unable to comment further at this time.

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