The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 10, 2008

Family sues Geisinger over newborn twin’s death


DANVILLE (AP) — The family of a newborn twin who died after what a Montour County hospital acknowledges was a medication error has filed a lawsuit against the hospital.

The surviving twin was left with a permanent brain injury, according to the suit filed against Geisinger Medical Center.

A day after their premature birth last August, twins Josiah and Nevaeh Mertune were given an antibiotic to defend against infections. An overdose of the medicine sent both babies into cardiac arrest, which caused the twins “catastrophic and permanent injuries,” according to the lawsuit.

Nevaeh died in November, while Josiah survived and is home with his parents, Tiffany Green and Anderson Mertune of Wilkes-Barre. According to the lawsuit, the parents were told by a neonatologist that a “pharmacy” error led to the drug overdose.

The couple’s lawyer, Matthew Casey, said the surviving boy’s brain injury will require a lifetime of care. The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 in damages from the medical center.

In a statement in response to the lawsuit, Geisinger noted that the hospital took corrective steps after the boy’s death, increasing a “double-check” system to a “triple-check” system. Geisinger also added educational sessions with pharmacy staff to review the enhanced protocol, the statement said.

“Once we completed a rapid evaluation, we contacted the Mertunes, expressed our sympathies, explained what we felt had happened, and because we have a commitment to continuous quality improvement at Geisinger, immediately instituted corrective measures,” said Dave Jolley, Geisinger’s associate vice president for public affairs.

Jolley said the hospital acknowledges a medication error in the case.

“We are saddened by the loss of any patient — especially a child. It grieves us all when one of those children does not survive.”

Jolley said the case was reported to the Department of Health.

“To our knowledge, the Department of Health has completed its investigation,” Jolley said. “We have not heard anything back from them.”