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Hospital Faces Lawsuit Following Infant’s Death

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Genesis Burkett

Genesis Burkett was born premature and died at the age of 5 weeks after he was allegedly given more than 60 times the amount of sodium chloride as prescribed by a doctor. (Credit: CBS)

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Updated 04/05/11 – 9:39 p.m.

PARK RIDGE, Ill. (WBBM) – Advocate Lutheran General Hospital has been hit with a wrongful death lawsuit after a premature infant was allegedly given more than 60 times the amount of sodium chloride as prescribed by the doctor.

The 5-week-old child died shortly thereafter.

“It’s hard to think about the plans that you made when it’s not gonna come true,” his mother, Fritzie Burkett said Tuesday, breaking down into tears.

She and her husband, Cameron Burkett, welcomed their son, Genesis, into the world prematurely in 2010 and he spent 40 days at Lutheran General.

“We saw the fight in him as a small child and I figured that would convey as he got older,” Cameron Burkett said.

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In their lawsuit, they allege Genesis’ doctor correctly ordered an IV nutrient bag for the newborn, but someone in the hospital mixed up the dosage.

The doctor ordered 14.7 milli-equivalents of sodium chloride. Patrick Salvi Sr., the attorney for the parents, sid the pharmacy instead filled the IV bag with 982 milli-equivalents.

Salvi said a test showed high levels of sodium chloride and a doctor asked for a repeat check.

“Unfortunately he didn’t say you better repeat it STAT, as doctors call it – right away. And it never got done,” Salvi said. “When you receive that much sodium, literally water is sucked out at a cellular level, eventually causing you to go into cardiac arrest.”

The baby boy had been receiving the wrong dosage for nearly 20 hours, according to Salvi. He died hours later October 2010 and his mother was there when he passed away.

“It was traumatic. It was like a nightmare and it felt unreal,” Fritzie Burkett.

Asked if she was angry at the people responsible, she said, “It’s not about anger, it’s more just hoping that … no other baby has to go and experience this again.”

The mistake happened in the hospital pharmacy, where an unknown technician entered the wrong amount into the machine that mixes IV solutions.

Doctors tried to save Genesis but nothing could be done.

“They couldn’t say anything. They were just trying to help him the best that they could. They didn’t know what was going on, they were completely confused and shocked,” his mother, Fritzie Burkett, said at a news conference at her attorney’s office.

Burkett family attorneys said the amount of sodium in the iv would have been lethal for an adult.

“It’s very hard just dealing with him passing anyway,” Genesis’ father, Cameron Burkett, said. “But to find that out was just, like, was just an extra amount of pain just to put to that situation.”

Lutheran General officials notified the family immediately after they determined what had taken place. In a statement on Tuesday, they said that Genesis “passed away after a hospital process error led to an incorrect concentration of sodium in his IV fluids. It was determined that a data entry error was made in the formulation of the IV solution.”

The hospital also said that steps have been taken at Lutheran General to insure this type of tragedy doesn’t happen again.

The tragedy was even tougher to take for the Burketts because Genesis would have been their first child and he was born after they suffered two miscarriages.

While the hospital admits to the error, Salvi says the emotional duress has been overwhelming.

The Chicago mother had fertility problems and had suffered two miscarriages.

“This was a very important pregnancy,” said Salvi.

“My office is firmly committed to obtaining substantial compensation for Fritzie and Cameron Burkett for the loss of their beautiful son and to do everything possible to make sure something like this never happens again.”

Luther General released a statement that said, in part: “Our prayers continue to be with the family of Genesis Emanuel Burkett as they mourn the loss of their son. Genesis was cared for in our neonatal intensive care unit for more than a month.”

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