PORTLAND — An Oregon woman who says she accidentally suffocated her newborn baby after falling asleep with him in her hospital bed has filed an $8.6 million lawsuit against the institution, Portland Adventist Medical Center, and a nurse there, according to court documents.
The mother, Monica Thompson, filed the suit last week in Multnomah County Circuit Court. She cited negligence in causing “foreseeable harm” to her son Jacob Daniel Thompson and “negligent infliction of emotional distress” to her over the child’s death on August 12, 2012. He was 10 days old.
Thompson is asking for a jury trial.
“Jacob was a true miracle baby,” Monica Thompson said in a statement provided to CNN by her lawyer. “My firstborn and only son. I am sharing our story in the hopes that no mother or family will ever have to suffer through a preventable tragedy such as this.”
Thompson said Jacob was taken to a nursery late on August 5, 2012, so she “could rest before being discharged.” She was given narcotic painkillers and sleep aids.
Around 3 a.m. on August 6, a provider, identified in the lawsuit as Nurse X, took the boy from the nursery to Thompson’s room for breastfeeding. The nurse “left the room and left the mother and son unattended,” the suit alleges.
“This was a tragic event and our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family,” Portland Adventist Medical Center said in a statement. “Adventist Medical Center is committed to providing quality, compassionate care to all of our patients. We are reviewing the claims being made and we are unable to provide any additional information at this time.”
A frantic call for help
About an hour after the nurse left, the suit said, Thompson woke up feeling “drowsy and groggy” and “noticed her son was unresponsive in her arms.”
“She called for a nurse while she tried to get him to respond,” the suit said. “Mrs. Thompson tried to stimulate her son’s suckling reflexes without success. She touched his eyes and got no response. She poked him and talked to him with no reaction. When no nurse came to help, Mrs. Thompson carried her son to the hallway and frantically yelled for help.”
Help came and the boy was taken to emergency care. He was put on life support and transferred to Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.
Doctors determined that Jacob suffered “severe hypoxia” or oxygen deficiency, “and his brain was severely and permanently damaged.” The parents accepted the doctors’ recommendation to terminate life support.
“A hospital doesn’t get to load a breastfeeding mother with narcotics and sleep aids, drop a newborn child on the same bed to breastfeed, and abandon them to their luck. It is senseless,” Diego Conde, the family attorney said.