$1.3 million settlement in infant death at military hospital

By By JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER 07.06.2015 news > Science

HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. government will pay $1.3 million to the family of a baby who died at a Hawaii military hospital, according to a settlement announced Monday in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Rachael Reynolds’ parents sued the government after the 4-month-old died three years ago at Tripler Army Medical Center.

The baby was taken to the emergency room Oct. 18, 2012, after several days of labored breathing and an upper respiratory infection, the lawsuit said.

According to the lawsuit, the hospital’s negligence included an oxygen mask that didn’t fit properly on the infant’s face.

Rachael’s parents took her off life support after being told she had severe and likely irreversible brain damage. She died in her parents arms on Oct. 22, 2012, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit alleges the child suffered “great physical pain, suffering, discomfort, emotional injuries and distress” because of the hospital’s actions.

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Yee said the government admits no liability or fault by settling. A hospital spokesman deferred comment to the United States Army Legal Services Agency, which didn’t immediately respond to a phone message left after business hours on the East Coast.

The settlement amount is still subject to final approval by the Justice Department. The lawsuit, filed last year in federal court in Honolulu, was scheduled to go to trial in October.

Richard Fried, the Honolulu attorney representing the family, declined to comment until the settlement is approved and finalized. Rachael’s father, William Reynolds, said he wasn’t ready to comment.

Medical malpractice settlements are often confidential, except when a government institution is involved.

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