Geisinger agrees to $6.5M settlement in child’s death

By Roger DuPuis - [email protected]
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WILKES-BARRE — The family of an 11-month-old boy who died of septic shock in 2015 has settled a suit against Geisinger Health System for $6.5 million for what it says was a preventable death.

Luzerne County Judge William Amesbury on Friday signed an order approving the settlement in the case filed by Rebecca Harowicz and Kevin Hayes Jr., of Wilkes-Barre, the parents of Gunner John Carl Hayes.

As the Times Leader previously reported, Gunner had been suffering from diarrhea and vomiting when he was was taken to the emergency room of Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township on Sept. 1, 2015, and then admitted, according to the suit.

The family argued it took almost a day to diagnose the child’s condition, and despite the urgency, he was transferred to another Geisinger facility by ambulance rather than medical helicopter.

An ultrasound showed a section of Gunner’s bowel had traveled into another section, a condition known as intussusception and hospital staff determined he should be transferred to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville for an enema and possible surgery, the suit said.

An ambulance crew took the child to Geisinger Medical Center and during the trip it was noted that he was “agitated and grunting” with a heart rate of 230 beats per minute and breathing rate of 20 respirations per minute, the suit said.

As he was being transferred into a hospital bed, Gunner become “unresponsive” and had no pulse, prompting hospital staff to begin CPR and perform emergency surgery on his bowel at his bedside, according to the lawsuit.

The child could not sustain “spontaneous circulation” for more than brief periods, and the lifesaving efforts were discontinued. The child was pronounced dead at 11:40 p.m. on Sept. 2, 2015.

The law firm of Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn of Kingston represented Gunner’s parents, with $2.7 million of the settlement covering attorneys’ fees and related expenses.

“We have agreed to an amicable settlement in the lawsuit regarding the death of Gunner Hayes, and sympathize with the Hayes family on the loss of their son.” David Jolley, Geisinger’s vice president of public affairs, said in a statement sent to the Times Leader on Friday afternoon.

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By Roger DuPuis

[email protected]