Routine Endoscopy Leaves 19-year-old in Vegetative State

A Westchester, New York couple claim doctors ‘stole’ their daughter after the 19-year-old former vivacious, high school cheerleader went into the hospital with stomach pains and is left with permanent brain damage.

Raina was halfway through her first year at Rockland Community College when she went to Phelps Memorial Hospital Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York for the endoscopy after suffering stomach pains.

Giulio and Iris Ferraro sued Phelps Memorial Hospital in Sleepy Hollow and two doctors for malpractice after claiming the staff was ‘careless’ and ‘negligent’ when they anesthetized their daughter, Raina, for a routine endoscopy in January.

An endoscopy is a procedure that lets the doctor look inside your body with an instrument called an endoscope or ‘scope’ for short. Scopes have a tiny camera attached to a long, thin tube. The doctor moves it through a passageway or opening to see inside an organ. This is generally a routine procedure that only takes a few minutes, while the patient is under anesthesia.

The lawsuit filed in Westchester Supreme Court yesterday by Giulio and Iris Ferraro, claim that Raina unexpectedly went into cardiac and respiratory arrest because doctors failed to consider Raina’s height and weight when they administered anesthesia on January 11th.

The Giulio’s also allege that medical staff improperly monitored Raina’s vital signs and excessively inflated her abdomen, which caused cardiac and respiratory arrest. In addition, they claim medical staff removed her breathing tube prematurely.

The cardiac and respiratory arrest led to brain damage, which has left the 19-year-old confied to a bed at Blythdale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, in a vegetative state.

Raina’s parents contend that the hospital never explained why their previously healthy, active daughter was now unable to move or speak to them.

The devastated mother stated that she is still struggling to come to terms with what happened to her once vivacious daughter.

“I’m waiting for her to wake up and say, ‘Hi mommy, let’s go shopping,’” she told the Daily News.

Giulio Ferraro, a cable television technician, estimated that the cost of his daughter’s medical care has already exceeded $1 million. The couple is suing for unspecified damages, which will cover the cost of looking after their now entirely dependent daughter for the rest of her life.

The negligence suit, which identifies the doctors as Stephen Heier, a gastroenterologist, and Phat Tran, an anesthesiologist, was filed Thursday on the young woman’s behalf by her parents of Goshen, NY.

Raina’s high school cheerleading team set up a fund to help raise money for her care during halftime at Chester Academy basketball games, from where Raina graduated in June 2012.  Her friends held a charity bowl-a-thon fundraiser in March, as well.

Just prior to this tragedy, the 19-year-old had earned her cosmetology certification from the BOCES CTEC program, and was anxious to receive her license from New York State to begin her career.

Following a complaint filed by family, the New York State Health Department has

Implemented an investigation into the incident, according to the Daily News.

A spokeswoman spoke on behalf of Phelps and said they could not discuss the suit or the case because of confidentiality laws.

The suit does not specify how much the Ferraro’s are seeking, but it outlines alleged failures on the part of the doctors, who, according to the suit, failed to administer proper drugs, failed to observe Raina Ferraro’s condition as she worsened, and ignored or were unaware of her medical history.

This was a case of negligence, which could have been avoided if proper care was taken.  Feel free to comment on this blog post. For more information, contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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