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Distraught Parents Sue Hospital Over Baby's Death

Abel Cepeda died at just 6 days old, parents say his death could have been prevented
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 17, 2019 6:50 PM CDT
Geisinger doctors Mark Shelly, left, Frank Maffei, and Rosemary Leeming, talk about the recent spread of pseudomonas in the NICU at Geisinger in Danville, Pa., Oct. 7, 2019.   (Robert Inglis/The Daily Item via AP)

(Newser) – Two babies had already died of a bacterial infection at Pennsylvania's Geisinger Medical Center before Abel Cepeda was born—and yet, his parents say in a lawsuit against the hospital, precautions that could have saved their baby's life were not taken. Instead, Abel spent his first—and last—days of life in the hospital's NICU, where he, too, contracted the Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria and died at just six days old. "The tragic story set forth in today’s filing is a parent’s worst nightmare come to life," the lawyer for Zuleyka Rodriguez and Luis David Cepeda says, per the Citizens' Voice. "The health system to which baby Abel’s parents entrusted him failed to tell them that the health system knew, for approximately two months, of a dangerous, deadly bacteria in the very NICU where Abel was taking his first breaths."

The lawsuit says the hospital's chief of pediatrics has acknowledged that he knew by early August the bacteria was making NICU babies "very sick," and yet, per WNEP, failed to close the NICU or transfer the most premature babies, who were known to be at the greatest risk. And when Abel was born at 26.2 weeks gestation Sept. 24, his parents say no one warned them about the bacteria; Rodriguez was discharged Sept. 27, and was at home with Cepeda Sept. 30 when they were woken up by a call saying Abel was not doing well. He died minutes before they arrived at the hospital. "As if losing their infant son wasn’t heartbreaking enough, due to defendants’ negligence and recklessness, David and Zuleyka were deprived of the opportunity to be at his bedside and to comfort him before he died," the lawsuit says. (More on the outbreak here.)

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