Judge orders UW to pay $15M to Snoqualmie family

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News and Associated Press

KREM.com

Posted on July 12, 2013 at 6:35 PM

SEATTLE -- A judge has awarded $15 million to the family of an 8-year-old girl who was left with permanent brain damage after taking a nasal decongestant recommended by a University of Washington doctor at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

The family of MacKenzie Briant sued the university and hospital in 2011 in King County Superior Court, alleging negligence. The judge decided the case Friday in Seattle.

"I worry all the time that she's in pain or trapped in her body," said her mother, Elaine Briant. "I just didn't want this to be her life."

Briant had undergone a heart transplant as an infant. When she had a stuffy nose four years ago, a UW doctor recommended a dose of Afrin. It caused cardiac arrest, depriving her brain of oxygen.

Briant's attorney argued that the mistake was due to a communication error. The UW doctor prescribed the nasal spray, even after consulting her cardiologist who warned against administering the drug because it could cause heart problems.

"It could have been avoided if there had been a repeat back policy," said attorney Ralph Brindley. "'You told me to give Afrin? Is that what I understand?' And that's what they should do in the medical community and I think they do in most instances."

"This case was about what caused her deficits," said Clarke Johnson, attorney for UW Medicine. "The specialist at Children's said it was unrelated to Afrin, our experts concluded it was unrelated to Afrin, the judge disagreed."

The Snoqualmie girl now requires around-the-clock nursing care.
 

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