A Hawaii military family was awarded $29.5 million by Hawaii’s U.S. District Court over a malpractice case against Tripler Army Medical Center.
The case revolved around John and Laura Warren. In September 2016, they took their infant daughter to Tripler when her stomach became tight and distended, turning blue below the belly button. The Warren’s infant stopped breathing shortly after arriving at the hospital — and had to be resuscitated.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser was the first to report on the court’s decision. Tripler Army Medical Center did not responded to Military Times’ request for comment.
Some staff at the hospital believed the infant had a midgut volvulus, where an infant’s intestine becomes twisted and causes a loss of blood flow. The condition can lead to death or significant medical complications if not addressed immediately. Doctors did not check the infant for the condition — and the Warren’s child did turn out to have a twisted intestine.
“Instead, they waited 19 hours,” Loretta Sheehan, one of the attorneys who represented the Warrens, told the Star-Advertiser. “And then when she was near death, they sent her by ambulance over to Kapiolani Medical Center… They found that about 90 to 95% of her small intestine was dead, ‘necrotic’ was the word they used, so they spent the next five months in the hospital. She had a total of about 14 surgeries.”
The infant lost most of her intestines — and now requires supplemental nutrition and medication given to her through tubes that go into permanent “holes” in her body. Over time, those holes became infected, which caused heart and brain damage.
According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, John Warren, who was serving in the Army when his daughter was hospitalized, ultimately decided to leave the service to prioritize her care.
“Originally when she was in the hospital, they gave me orders to leave to different places,” he told the Star-Advertiser. “But with her medical condition, even at the time, she was still in the hospital.”
The Warren’s malpractice judgement is one in a long line of malpractice cases against Tripler. Last year, the medical center paid $15 million for a baby that suffered brain damage during birth due to a delayed cesarean section at Tripler. In 2015, Tripler also paid $1.3 million in the death of a 4-month-old that had brain damage from an upper respiratory infection.
Since 1997, Tripler has dolled out more than $108 million in malpractice verdicts and settlements.
Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.