Monday, May 19, 2008

The Death of a 13 Year Old

Medical neglect is far too common among people with developmental disabilities. Of course, the more profound the disability, the more likely medical neglect will occur. I've seen several cases of medical neglect in my years of being around such folks; one leading to death. I found this story written a few days back in the Chicago Tribune.

Boy's Death Ruled Homicide

Bedsores 'bone-deep' despite 24-hour care by 2 licensed nurses

By Dan P. Blake and Mary Owen | Tribune reporters

Jaylen Brown needed round-the-clock care, and the 13-year-old developmentally disabled boy with cerebral palsy was supposed to have it. His mother had the help of two licensed practical nurses to care for her son seven days a week at their South Side home.

And yet the boy died Thursday of complications from "bone-deep bedsores" that the Cook County Public Guardian called a "a disgusting case of neglect" that a number of people should have seen before it was too late.

The boy's death has been ruled a homicide, with the cause being blood poisoning from neglected severe bedsores, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

Jaylen died at La Rabida Children's Hospital two months after doctors and nurses alerted authorities that he was suffering from neglect and malnourishment after his mother brought him in with a breathing problem.
The mother, Kesheia Phillips, 29, and two home health-care nurses, Morris Lee Brinkley, 73, and Loren Brown, 49, who is not related to the boy, were charged last month with felony neglect of a person with a disability and failure to report a neglected child, according to court records.

With Jaylen's death ruled a homicide, prosecutors are considering more serious charges against the three women, said Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for Cook County State's Atty. Richard Devine.

Law enforcement officials and state regulators were piecing together the tragic turns in Jaylen's life. Court records show an erratic history of hospital visits in recent months where his poor condition was noted, but Phillips never made the follow-up appointments doctors had requested.

"Somebody missed the entire picture over what this kid was going through, and there were enough people around that they should have seen something," Public Guardian Robert Harris said Friday.

"This kid's been sick his whole life, and there were two nurses that went to see him seven days a week," Harris said. "These folks should have had the experience or knowledge and training to know when a bedsore would have gotten so bad it would have caused a blood infection."

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services officials said they had no other "substantiated allegations or investigations into this family." They would not comment on whether there were previous inquiries regarding Jaylen's welfare.

Phillips, of the 8500 block of South Ogelsby Avenue, and Brown remain in custody from the neglect charges filed in early April. Brinkley posted bail and was released Sunday. Reached at her home in the 9100 block of South Paulina Street, Brinkley declined to comment Friday night.

A lawyer for the nurses' employer, Maxim Healthcare Services, said both women have been fired but it is unclear when.

Phillips took the boy to a hospital in August 2007 where doctors noted he had lost 20 pounds. Doctors asked to see him in four to six weeks, but Phillips never made a follow-up appointment, according to court records.

Jaylen's next contact with doctors was March 17, when he was taken to La Rabida for respiratory failure, according to court records. When hospital officials saw the extent of Jaylen's bedsores and the severity of his general condition, they alerted DCFS.

Prosecutors allege that after the nurses left for the evening about 7 p.m., Phillips was often out of the home and did not see her son, whose severe retardation left him with the mental capacity of an infant. His diapers often went unchanged at night, they alleged.

Phillips' other children, a 6-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl, have been removed from the home and placed in a relative's custody during the investigation, said Kendall Marlowe, a spokesman for DCFS. Relatives said the children are being cared for by their grandmother.

Neighbor Elizabeth Hailey said the nurses complained that Phillips treated them like baby-sitters for her other children.

"I told her once, 'You have to watch your kids,' " Hailey said. "I'm not saying she didn't love her kids, but maybe it was too much for her."

Jaylen's uncle, Jerome Phillips, defended his sister, saying she was a single mother doing the best she could for her children.

Staff reporters Jeremy Gorner and David Heinzmann contributed to this report.


TAK WU said...

RIP, Jaylen!

David McDonald said...

Sounds like you knew Jaylen... true?