The Korea Herald


Parents lose lawsuit against hospital for son's brain damage

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : April 15, 2024 - 11:41

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(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

A South Korean court said Monday it has ruled against parents who sued a hospital for their son's brain damage stemming from emergency medical treatment for a viral infection.

In a civil suit against an Incheon-based hospital, Incheon District Court ruled that there was no evidence to prove negligence on the medical staff's part or their responsibility in what turned out to be a delay in proper treatment.

"The records show that the medical staff consistently observed the boy's status through his blood pressure and oxygen levels. ... The nurse was stationed to provide care such as oxygen injection, and the doctors observed him closely to check his status," the court said in its ruling.

The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit seeking 390 million won ($282,000) in compensation and medical fees in 2020, holding the hospital responsible for their son's deteriorated condition after treatment. They claimed that the hospital neglected the child, who was 2 years old at the time of the incident, despite him having difficulty breathing, and delayed intubation, leading to multiple cardiac arrests and subsequent brain damage.

In June 2017, the child was taken to the Incheon hospital's emergency room after displaying symptoms including a fever. He had been diagnosed with foot and mouth disease two days earlier at a different hospital.

After attempts to provide oxygen through a nasogastric tube had failed, the doctors intubated the boy, which took about 38 minutes. The delay led to the boy's cardiac arrests and brain damage resulting in impaired cognitive and walking abilities.

He was eventually diagnosed with enterovirus 71.

The court said what the delayed intubation was not the result of the medical staff's failure to observe the patient, but could be more attributed to the child having a much smaller airway due to his young age. It ordered the plaintiffs to shoulder the complete costs for the legal procedures, as is conventional in civil suits here.