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Family of 6-year-old girl who died from flu sues hospital that discharged her

Nearly 10 million sickened by flu this season
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The parents of a six-year-old girl who died from the flu in 2018 have filed a lawsuit against the hospital that they say discharged her prematurely. Nevaeh Hernandez died on February 12, 2018, after being sent home from Hoboken University Medical Center, CarePoint Health, in New Jersey.

According to attorney Francisco Rodriguez, the family brought Hernandez to the hospital for headaches and a fever. The kindergartner was then tested for the flu using the rapid flu test, Rodriguez said, but the rapid test came back negative because it does not test for the H1N1 flu — the strain that Hernandez had. 

At the time of her death, Hernandez was the second child in New Jersey to die from that year's H1N1 flu epidemic, CBS New York reports. 

According to Rodriguez, the flu test was an "appropriate" response, however, the hospital only checked the girl's vital signs once, and did not recheck her heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure before sending her home. 

"Our expert says that it was a deviation from the standard of care (1) to send Nevaeh home without first checking her vitals before discharge and that her vitals would have dictated keeping her in the hospital," Rodriguez told CBS News. "These vital signs would likely have been sufficiently abnormal such that they would have needed to keep her in the hospital." 

Rechecking her vital signs would have also "prompted them to do further testing in this case," he said. 

The girl also had a history of febrile seizures — "a convulsion in a child caused by a spike in body temperature," according to the Mayo Clinic, that should have prompted the hospital to keep her under observation for longer, Rodriguez said. 

Instead, the hospital gave Hernandez Motrin to reduce her fever, but did not wait to see if it worked, according to Rodriguez.

Twelve hours after being sent home, the girl spiked a fever of 106 degrees and was taken by an ambulance to Hackensack University Medical Center, according to Rodriguez. The six-year-old suffered a massive seizure on the way.  

"The staff at [Hackensack University Medical Center] was unable to save her despite heroic efforts because she was so sick with the flu," he said.

The lawsuit, filed on February 1, names Hoboken University Medical Center, CarePoint Health, as well as a number of the hospital's medical staff, and requests a trial by jury.

CarePoint Health declined to comment to, citing pending litigation, and did not respond to a request for comment from CBS News. 

"The defendants, each and every one of them, were negligent, careless, reckless, and unskillful in failing to properly diagnose and care for Decedent Nevaeh Hernandez's influenza," reads the lawsuit. "Failing to follow standard accepted medical procedures... failing to timely and appropriately diagnose, treat and/or vaccinate Nevaeh Hernandez's condition of H1N1 influenza causing, ultimately, her untimely death."

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