Francesca Webster gave birth to twin daughters, Emma and Zoe. However, Emma would not live to see her 3rd birthday as she died from cancer. Francesca and husband Dave have now filed a lawsuit against Johns Hopkins Hospital alleging negligence led to the 2-year-old's death.
Intensive Care After Premature Birth
The fraternal twins were born prematurely and cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). As part of the care for the twins, an ultrasound of Emma's body showed a mass in the right adrenal gland area. A nurse practitioner noted the abdominal mass and wrote that it could be neuroblastoma, a type of cancer. However, the parents say the hospital never communicated the possible cancer threat.
The notes also have a recommendation to schedule another ultrasound in a week after the child leaves the hospital but the records do not indicate this was communicated to the parents. There are no other records in the discharge documents to recommend monitoring the adrenal mass or cyst. As a result, the parents say the mass went unnoticed and untreated for almost 2 years.
At about age 2, Emma began suffering symptoms of fever, stomach problems, and congestion. Imaging showed a large abdominal mass and liver and spleen displacement. Tests showed the cancer in Emma's body had spread to her abdomen, lymph nodes, neck, skull, spine, and femur. Despite radiation therapy and chemotherapy, the child died.
Webster was a nurse at the Johns Hopkins' labor and delivery unit and gave birth in the same unit. As a result, Webster has filed a lawsuit alleging negligence against other employees and healthcare professionals where she works. But the family wants someone to take responsibility and admit to some wrongdoing.
Neuroblastoma in Children
Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that generally affects young infants and children. The cancer starts in the nerve cells, often in an embryo or fetus. Neuroblastomas can grow and spread quickly. According to the American Cancer Society, early detection and diagnosis can be key to treating neuroblastoma and it allows for more treatment options.
Cancer staging is often based on the simplified International Neuroblastoma Staging System (INSS), which many people understand as Stage 1 to Stage 4 cancer. At Stage 1, the cancer is in the area where it started and lymph nodes outside the tumor are free of cancer cells. At the most severe level, Stage 4, the cancer has spread to distant sites in the body, including lymph nodes, bone, liver, skin, bone marrow, or other organs.
Treatment options may depend on risk group levels. For high-risk patients, treatment options may include:
- Drug regimens
- Stem cell transplants
Delayed Treatment and Monitoring for Childhood Cancer
For a parent, getting news that their young child may have cancer is devastating. However, when the cancer is detected at an early stage, the child may have a much better chance of recovery. When a parent is not told of a possible cancer risk, delayed treatment can leave the child with few options.
If your child suffered an injury because the doctors or hospital staff did not monitor or notify you of problems, speak with a medical malpractice attorney for answers. To discuss your case with a member of our legal team, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today.