$2.5 Million Settlement for Medication Error in Child with Urea Cycle Disorder

Blume Donnelly partner Michael B. Zerres obtained a $2.5 million settlement on behalf of a eight-year-old child who suffers from an urea cycle disorder known as carbamyl phoshphate synthetase deficiency (“CPSD”). CPSD is a type of urea cycle disorder where the deficiency prevents the normal remove of nitrogen from the body through one’s urea. As a result, the nitrogen accumulates and forms ammonia, which then travels through the bloodstream. When the blood ammonia reaches high levels (“hyperammonemia”) and travels to the brain, it is highly toxic, and can cause brain damage.

Researchers have developed a formula which allows for the removal of ammonia from the body through an alternate pathway, thereby reducing the blood ammonia levels. The formula is administered pursuant to a strict protocol. The client had been successfully treated for various episodes of hyperammonemia for the first two years of his life through administration of the formula at time of high blood ammonia levels. Nonetheless, the client did suffer some developmental delays as a result of his condition.

At the age of two and four months, the client had a bout of hyperammonemia, requiring admission to the hospital. The protocol was ordered, but prepared in the incorrect concentration by the hospital pharmacist. The client’s nurse then hung an IV bag containing the formula, but did not compare the label on the bag, prepared by the pharmacist, with the order written by the physician who ordered the medication. As a result, the client received only 25% of his medication for 19 hours, resulting in escalating blood ammonia levels. When the error was discovered, the hospital failed to timely perform hemodialyis in a further attempt to remove the high levels of ammonia from the blood, also required by the protocol when the formula is ineffective, and the client went into a coma. He had to be airlifted to another hospital for proper treatment, but unfortunately, suffered a permanent brain injury as a result of the medication error.

Now 8 years old, the client is permanently disabled and suffers from a seizure disorder.