SSM DePaul Health Center in Bridgeton, Missouri finds themselved under fire for medical malpractice, after a hainous event that took place last October. Sixteen year old Alexis Richie, a patient in the psychiatric ward of the hospital, suffocated and died when caretakers restrained and sedated her face down in a bean bag chair.
Alexis Richie was a foster child from the time she was 7 years old, bouncing around between families and institutions. A troubled past included incidents of sexual abuse, as well as a suicide attempt at age 11. Alexis would act out in violent fits, and many times cause physical harm to others. She was admitted to the psychiatric ward at the SSM DePaul Health Center on October 16, 2009 after stabbing a teacher at Evangelical Children’s Home with a pencil.
During her 10 day stay at DePaul, Alexis was sedated and restrained frequently. Her outbursts put herself and others in danger. In therapy, she knew she needed to behave because she wanted to return to her foster home for her 17th birthday.
On the night of October 26th, an aide named Leon Harriel told Alexis to head back to the girls hall for bedtime, and Alexis cursed at him. She became unruly and violent, and Harriel , along with another aide, Mike Manetta, grabbed Alexis by her arms and took her to a small room, where they laid her face down on a bean bag chair. Alexis continued to fight the aides, and Nurse Pam Wooten entered the room with shots of Geodon and Ativan. Wooten injected the drugs into Alexis and left the room to get arm restraints. Harriel and Manetta told Alexis they would let go of her if she calmed down, and which point she became limp. At that point, Harriel and Manetta simply stood up and left the room. They did not check her pulse or her breathing, or even help her turn around to be face up on the chair.
Minutes later, Wooten returned and Harriel told her Alexis had calmed down. She did not re-enter the room to check on the girl. The charge nurse, Iris Blanks, was making rounds and asked about the status of Alexis. Harriel said she had passed out after receiving the sedative shots. Blanks entered the room and called Alexis’ name to no response. Blanks checked vital signs; pulse weak, pupils fixed, reflexes gone. She was soaked in her own urine. The team tried to revive the girl, but it had been 12 minutes since she first “went limp.” It was too late. Alexis was pronounced dead at 10:06 pm.
So far, charges have not been filed against the caretakers, as the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said there were too many people involved to determine who was responsible.
The Team’s Response to Alexis’s Condition
Alexis’ biological family has hired an attorney who is investigating the case. This story is an example of gross medical malpractice and negligence. The caretakers response to Alexis’ state when Blanks found her was horrid. Blanks should have immediately started CPR, but instead left the room to get a flashlight and blood pressure machine. She left a second time to get a stethoscope, and to retrieve Nurse Wooten. Wooten came in and tried to wake Alexis up, who was not responding. She called a code blue at the nurses station, and an emergency team entered the room. It took the doctor 9 minutes to put the breathing tube down Alexis’ throat. The team’s response was not at all satisfactory, and Iris Blanks was fired immediately.
The SSM DePaul Health Center has a lot of work to do to make sure their staff is qualified and ready to handle emergencies such as this, and to be able enough to not cause emergencies like this, as happened in this case.
Mininno Law Office and Medical Malpractice
At the Mininno Law Office, medical malpractice cases are taken very seriousley. Alexis should not have died due to the negligence of doctors who felt no need to check up on her after pinning her down and injecting her with sedatives.
If you or a loved one have been victimized by medical malpractice or medical negligence, do not hesitate to contact the Mininno Law Office. Our New Jersey and Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Attorneys are here to work for you, and to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.