John Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute Fatality Rate Increase

December 5, 2018 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
John Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute Fatality Rate Increase

All Children's Heart Institute Contends With Patient Fatalities

Pediatric medicine is an area of healthcare requiring special sensitivity and skills in order to ensure that patients receive the highest quality of care. Many parents must turn to facilities like John Hopkins All Children's Heart Institute here in the Tampa Bay area for medical aid regarding child heart conditions. Recently, All Children's Heart Institute has come under scrutiny regarding their increased patient fatality rate. Many patients seeking care for heart conditions faced serious complications during and after surgeries provided by the doctors of All Children's Heart Institute. To put the severity of these fatalities into perspective, the 2017 death rate of All Children's Heart Institute was the highest any Florida pediatric heart program had seen in the last decade. Many of the complications and issues surrounding these surgeries are believed by some to have been avoidable.

All children's Heart Institute Controversy History

The All Children's Heart Institute became part of the John Hopkin's hospital and medicine network in 2011. In this acquisition with John Hopkin's, came a renewed interest in increasing the scope of All Children's heart surgery program. The chief of pediatric heart surgery Dr. James Quintessenza was the doctor who performed the majority of surgeries, especially the most difficult cases. His track record performing these surgeries was stellar with little to no issues at all. In addition to Dr. Quintessenza, was Dr. Jeffrey Jacobs that performed some surgeries as well but had many other medical focuses and Dr. Paul Chai who only occasionally operated at All Children's. Dr. Chai left in 2013 and was replaced with Dr. Tom Karl. This prompted some changes at All Children's involving severing of relationships with many private doctors that were frequently consulted previously, and the equal distribution of cases among Dr. Quintessenza, Jacobs, and Karl regardless of complexity. This ended up driving Dr. Quintessenza away from the program in 2016 and found All Children's replacing him with a younger surgeon named Dr. Nhue Lap Do in 2017.

Patient Complications and Fatalities After Surgery

With the departure of Dr. Quintessenza and the severing of ties with many private doctors in restructuring, the All Children's Heart Institute began to encounter issues with patients suffering complications after their surgeries. When Dr. Karl and Dr. Jacobs were the only two surgeons, the All Children's Heart Institute saw its highest six-month mortality rate in eight years with at least four children dead as a result. In 2016, One child named Katelynn Whipple had a surgical needle left in her aorta by Dr. Karl. Despite several other physicians being aware of the needle being left inside, Katelynn Whipple was discharged. Luckily she had the needle removed in an unrelated surgery at St. Josephs in Tampa. Another child named Alexcia Escamilla was operated on by Drs. Karl and Jacobs in June 2016. Alexcia had already undergone several surgeries for her heart condition with Dr. Quintessenza that were supposed to be higher risk yet they went successfully. Unfortunately, surgery with Drs. Karl and Jacobs resulted in complications during the procedure in the form of a vein bursting in Alexcia's esophagus which caused a stroke. As a result of these surgical complications, Alexcia developed severe disability due to a stroke that really only happens in a minute percentage of pediatric open heart surgeries. Other children would suffer from infections after their surgeries. A 4-month-old named Leslie Lugo developed an infection after her surgery which her parent's argued was due to an unsterile hospital room. Most experts agree that the risk of infection after a surgery is largely preventable with appropriate measures taken to keep recuperation as sterile as possible. The list of casualties from the All Children's Heart Institute goes on.

Voiced Concerns Over All Children's Issues

It is important to remember that accidents at hospitals do happen and sometimes people that go into surgery suffer unavoidable complications and errors. What is disturbing is that there were repeated complaints and concerns voiced about issues in the All Children's Heart Institute and the surgery they performed. The rising number of death rates at All Children's inevitably lead to many of the staff taking notice of the lack of quality offered in surgeries offered by Dr. Karl and Dr. Jacobs. In 2015 four physician assistants held meetings with hospital leadership and even the surgeons. Additional staff including nurses, other doctors, and other assorted medical professionals all left All Children's due to the lack of attention to concerns raised over the quality of care that resulted in children's deaths. In addition, the lack of transparency when it came to evaluating performance and data on the cases of surgical complication lead many to grow even more concerned.

All Children's Surgical Problem Outcomes

Eventually, in 2017 the leadership of All Children's actively recognized the issues that the Heart Institute was having with surgery and started sending especially young surgery patients to other hospitals for treatment and stopped trying to treat more complicated heart conditions and sending those patients to other hospitals as well. Despite the new emphasis on simpler heart issue treatment many problems still arose. Eventually, Dr. Karl was spoken to by hospital leadership about the issues surrounding his surgery quality. He remained on staff for some time until he was eventually removed from all Child's website in July. Dr. Jacobs and Dr. Do remain on All Child's staff yet they have released a statement declaring that they are not currently offering surgery.

Medical Malpractice Due to Surgical Complications

Those who have suffered at the hands of doctor's whose negligence resulted in severe injury can hold those doctors accountable for the harm they inflicted with a medical malpractice claim. By proving that a surgeon's negligence caused a complication that injured a patient, a plaintiff can seek compensation for the injuries they have suffered. When a doctor does not uphold the standard of care expected of them and makes mistakes that could have been easily avoidable then they can be held liable in a medical malpractice claim. Hospitals can also be held accountable for the injuries they may have caused by not recognizing problems with their medical care and addressing them before someone was hurt.

Common Surgical Complications and Medical Malpractice

There are many complications that occurred in surgeries performed by surgeons of All Children's Heart Institute that are commonly the basis of medical malpractice cases. One of the most common forms of medical malpractice is the use of improper procedure and the lack of sterility in hospital environments that cause infections to occur. Infections in children especially can be particularly injurious and cause death. The leaving behind of foreign bodies in surgery patients is also a common basis for medical malpractice. Foreign objects left in the body can cause all kinds of issues like internal bleeding, punctured organs, and infection.

Seek an Experienced Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or a loved one have been injured because of the neglect of a healthcare provider, then do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA about receiving a free consultation on your claim. Our skilled lawyers have the expertise you will need to investigate and build the best possible case for your claim's success. Allow Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA to assist you in holding those liable for your injuries responsible while you recuperate. With the right lawyer by your side, you can be confident that the legal action you take in a medical malpractice claim will result in a settlement of sufficient size to help compensate the financial damages you may have sustained as well as help to ease some of the distress that accompanies these damages. For a free consultation on your claim you can contact us online or call (727) 451-6900 Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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