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Tripler ordered to pay more than $9 Million

August 17, 2007

It's the latest in a string of judgments against Tripler for negligence involving infants.

By Gina Mangieri

Coos and smiles are probably the most Parker Kohl will ever be able to express to his mom and dad.

He's 3 years old now but has the mental capacity of an infant.

It was during infancy that he was admitted to Tripler Army Medical Center with a respiratory infection. His condition worsened and a nurse tried to get help to re-intubate the child.

"For whatever reason nobody reacted to it and he continued downhill until he just couldn't work any harder and he stopped breathing," says the plaintiff's attorney Rick Fried.

He suffered cardiorespiratory arrest and severe brain damage. Based on expert testimony and Judge David Ezra's personal visit with the child, the court found that Parker will likely live only about 30 years while needing 24-hour care. He is blind and can't speak.

"There was just a failure here to have a chain of command where someone who needed help was unable to get it," says Fried

Just last year the largest personal injury award in state history was also against Tripler.

$16,500,000 went to the family of Izzy Peterson, a newborn left blind and comotose when staff administered carbon dioxide instead of oxygen.

In 2001 $1,400,000 was ordered paid out after an infant suffered brain damage when Tylenol was prescribed for what turned out to be meningitis.

Fried says, "I'm not sure it's unique, but I must say certainly recently that we've seen more problems here than we have at other facilities....I'm hoping here they'll institute a better response system."

Tripler could appeal the federal court's ruling; it did not fight the last large award.

"Tripler Army Medical Center respects the decision made by the U.S. District Court," says Tripler spokesperson, Colonel Arthur Wallace

Officials stand behind the quality of care at the 230-bed facility.

Col. Wallace says, "We are a premier military health and education center that strives to provide safe, high-quality care and service to all the beneficiaries we serve."

The family had been stationed at Schofield and is now in Washington State.

They say they are relieved to have the funds to cover parker's extensive care costs, and say they do not hold a grudge.

Story Updated: Aug 16, 2007 at 9:12 PM HDT