LAS VEGAS (CN) – A mother and her twin babies died of tuberculosis after being transferred from a Las Vegas hospital that never bothered to check for the disease, fellow patients claim in a class action.
Vanessa White, 25, was feeling ill when she went to Summerlin Hospital Medical Center in May 2013 and gave premature birth to her twins, Emma and Abigail, according to the complaint in Clark County Court.
As her condition deteriorated, doctors admitted her into the hospital, while Emma and Abigail were kept in the neonatal intensive care unit.
White regularly visited her twin daughters for hours at a time while hospitalized, and Summerlin staff never tested her for tuberculosis and did not initiate a quarantine or other medical precautions, according to the lawsuit.
Emma died at Summerlin Hospital in June, and doctors did not test her for tuberculosis, the complaint states.
When White’s condition continued to deteriorate, Summerlin Hospital officials transferred her to a Los Angeles-area hospital to obtain a “higher level of care” around July 25, but she died soon after. An autopsy revealed tuberculosis, which staff at both hospitals failed to detect, according to the complaint.
Doctors at the Los Angeles hospital notified Summerlin Hospital Medical Center staff of White’s autopsy findings, and Abigail died of tuberculosis in August 2013.
Doctors do not know if the twins were born with tuberculosis or if they contracted it from their mother during her visits with them at Summerlin Hospital. Medical staff never quarantined or took any precautions with the infants, according to the complaint.
Despite her poor health, hospital staff allowed White to visit most areas of the medical center without wearing a mask or taking other safety measures, the complaint states. She visited her children for hours at a time and came into direct contact with hospital visitors, patients, family members, staff, vendors and others while afflicted with highly contagious tuberculosis.
The six named plaintiffs include fellow patients and their families, and Summerlin employees. They claim that despite White’s obvious symptoms, Summerlin did not take any precautions until notified by medical personnel in Los Angeles. They fear that they and others were exposed to the disease that killed White and her twins.
Tuberculosis, an airborne disease, once was considered nearly eradicated in the United States, but drug-resistant forms have returned.
The plaintiffs seek class certification and punitive damages for negligence and medical malpractice.
Defendants include Summerlin Hospital Medica Center and affiliates, Valley Health System LLC, Universal Health Services Inc., and six individuals.The plaintiffs are represented by Matthew Callister.
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