YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Jahi McMath case: Oakland hospital gets positive state review

March 13, 2014|By Jason Wells

The attorney for the family of Jahi McMath — the 13-year-old Oakland girl who was declared brain-dead after a complicated surgery to remove her tonsils — is assailing conclusions by investigators that the hospital largely followed state medical regulations.

Jahi's case made Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland a flashpoint of controversy after family members won a court order keeping her on a ventilator, and eventually, permission to transfer her to an undisclosed care facility, despite broad consensus among medical experts that her body would continue to deteriorate.

PHOTOS: Grief, determination in Jahi McMath case

Jahi was declared brain-dead Dec. 12 after surgery three days earlier at the hospital to remove her tonsils, adenoids and uvula. The Alameda County coroner issued a death certificate without performing an autopsy and Jahi's body was released to her family, which moved her to an undisclosed care facility.

In the report obtained Wednesday by the Contra Costa Times, investigators for the California Department of Public Health found one area of "deficiency" in how the hospital handled patient records prior to surgery.

Jahi's case was included in a random sample of 28 others for the investigation. For eight of those 29 cases, investigators found that the pre-surgical checklist was incomplete, or that the information was not included in an electronic medical file, the Contra Costa Times reported. Because of state privacy laws, it was not known if Jahi's case is among them.

Still, the hospital's chief medical officer, Dr. David Durand, told the newspaper that he was "very pleased" with the results.

"No deficiencies of quality of care were identified in the survey," he said.

But the attorney who represented the McMath family throughout its ordeal assailed the findings, calling it a prime reason for why civil court proceedings are needed.

Christopher Dolan told the San Francisco Chronicle that the report was a "classic example of the fox guarding the henhouse."

He said the report may have appeared to give the hospital's adherence to procedures a relatively high grade but did nothing to determine whether the people actually carrying them out were negligent.

"It does not evaluate whether, in a specific case, there was medical negligence," he told the paper.

In a Facebook message posted Wednesday, Jahi's mother, Nailah Winkfield, wrote that "despite what people say about my daughter being dead and how I must be ignorant not to get that, I can tell you that she is much better physically since she has left Children's Hospital and I see changes that give me hope."

Medical experts and ethicists have criticized the decision to keep Jahi on a ventilator, saying there is absolutely no chance of recovering from brain death.

At least three neurologists confirmed that Jahi was unable to breathe on her own, had no blood flow to her brain and had no sign of electrical activity in her brain.


LAPD mourns the loss of one of its own at downtown funeral

Manson family killer Bruce Davis gets parole grant, but may not walk

FBI ramps up Hawaii search for suspected terrorist in Calif. bombings

Twitter: @jasonbretwells | Facebook | Google+

Los Angeles Times Articles