Child's Death Costs Hopkins $6 Million.
City jury sides with parents against pediatrician, Bayview Medical. A Baltimore Couple won a $6.2 Million dollar judgement for the death of their child against Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical and one of its doctors.
The Daily Record
May 10 1996
Child’s Death Costs Hopkins $6M
City Jury sides with Parents Against Pediatrician, Bayview Medical
By Catherine M. Brennan
Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer
A Baltimore couple won a $6.2 million judgment for the death of their child against Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and one of its doctors Wednesday - one of the largest wrongful death verdicts to be assessed against the hospital in recent memory.
Nicole Allen and Marlow Henry claimed that the hospital and pediatrician Krystyna Blotny negligently caused the death of Keyon Henry, their 22-month-old child, in July 1993.
The child was brought to Bayview’s burn center on July 22 after suffering second-degree burns over 24 percent of his body from an accidental fall into a tub of scalding water. He died several days later after he was transferred to the hospital’s pediatric ward.
After a six-day trial and almost three hours of deliberation, a Baltimore City Circuit jury awarded the couple $500,000 for the hospital’s and doctor’s negligence, and $5.7 million on their wrongful death claim.
The jury found in the parents’ favor despite the fact that the doctor who performed Keyon Henry’s autopsy recanted his conclusion that there were signs of infection in the child’s blood and wounds at the time of death.
The verdict was the second victory against Johns Hopkins in as many months for attorneys Robert J. Weltchek and Stephen L. Snyder, who represented Allen and Henry. Last month, they won a $1.1 million claim for the family of a 25-year-old Baltimore City man who died during neurosurgery.
According to Snyder, Keyon Henry developed a post-burn infection and dehydration while in the Bayview pediatric ward. The infection went untreated by Blotny, the doctor then assigned to take care of young children who sustained burn injuries.
“When the child got to pediatrics, it was a steady, continuous downhill course,” Snyder said, “in which the child’s blood count became dramatically decreased.”
On July 28, Keyon Henry’s white-blood count was 1,500, when a normal count is between 6,000 and 17,000, Snyder said.
Blotny apparently believed that silvadene, a topical burn antibiotic, caused the low white-blood count by suppressing bone marrow production, and she stopped applying it to the boy’s burns.
On July 29, his white blood count went up to 2,200, but his “band” count- which measures the production of nutrafills, or immature white-blood cells – shot up from 6 percent to 65 percent, an indication that the white-blood cells had been exhausted and were trying to replenish themselves, Weltchek said.
“He needed intravenous antibiotics to assist him in fighting off the infection,” Snyder said.
On July 30, Keyon Henry developed severe dehydration and excessive toxins in his system, but Blotny apparently did nothing, leaving only a note in his record at 10 a.m. that the boy appeared to be “irritable.”
At 5 p.m., a nurse again recorded his irritability, which was upgraded to “extreme irritability” by 6:45 p.m.
At 9:15 p.m., Keyon Henry was found without a pulse and could not be resuscitated. He was pronounced dead at 9:45 p.m.
“Children do not die of a second-degree burn such as this,” Snyder said. This kid paid the price for having no one available to attend to his needs on a Friday afternoon in the summertime.”
An autopsy, performed by Dr. Dennis Chute of the Baltimore City Medical Examiner’s Office, revealed both pathological evidence of infection and that the second-degree burn turned into a third-degree burn due to infection in Keyon Henry’s wounds.