According to CNN, Jessica Ross has filed a lawsuit in Clayton County against the Southern Regional Medical Center and staff members after she and her boyfriend claim they witnessed employees attempt to cover up how their son passed away while in their care. The couple’s attorney shared that when the 20-year-old was in the delivery process of giving birth to a full-term baby boy, who was named after his dad, complications arose and he died. When they “demanded to see and hold their baby, hospital staff told them that they were not allowed to touch or hold their child,” and they became suspicious, the family’s spokesperson for the couple said, according to CNN.
Court documents revealed that at the time of birth, “the baby did not properly descend due to shoulder dystocia,” a condition where one or both of the baby’s shoulders become stuck during vaginal delivery, according to Cleveland Clinic. When this occurred, the lawsuit alleges that the physician, Dr. Tracey St. Julian, “negligently applied excessive traction” and that proper medical practices were missed.
“Hospital staff allowed the young couple to only view their dead child,” according to a statement the spokesperson released. “During this viewing, their baby was wrapped tightly in a blanket with his head propped on top of his body in a manner such that those viewing him could not identify that he had been decapitated.”
The medical examiner’s office director, Brian Byars, shared with CNN that he and his team are working to determine the cause of death. In the meantime, Southern Regional Medical Center released a statement on the matter and explained they are unable to speak in detail regarding the matter due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, aka HIPAA, and with investigations still underway.
“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the family and all those impacted by this tragic event,” the medical center’s statement reads, 11Alive reported. “Our prayers also remain with the dedicated team of physicians, nurses and staff at Southern Regional Medical Center who cared for this patient. As our deepest sympathies remain with the family, Southern Regional Medical Center denies the allegations of wrongdoing in the Complaint referencing the hospital. Due to patient privacy laws and HIPAA, we are unable to discuss the care and treatment of specific patients, but we can state this unfortunate infant death occurred in utero prior to the delivery and decapitation. … Since this matter is in litigation, we cannot provide additional statements.”
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The couple is requesting a jury trial, according to CNN. They are also seeking compensation for the value of the child’s life, including loss of lifetime earnings, as well as compensation for funeral and burial costs.