Tehachapi doctor accused of gross negligence in treatment of baby who suffered brain damage

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TEHACHAPI, Calif. (KGET) — A Tehachapi doctor is accused of gross negligence in her treatment of a baby who was later diagnosed and treated for meningitis and found to have permanent brain damage.

Dr. Susan Jane Perry Hall failed to obtain and review the baby’s hospital records when the child was first brought to her, didn’t schedule a follow-up within the standard time frame and failed to obtain a urinalysis in another visit when the baby had discolored urine and signs of tenderness in his abdomen, according to the accusation brought by the Medical Board of California.

“The standard of care for a physician treating a premature newborn is to be very critical of minor symptoms as premature infants are more likely to become ill and not show typical symptoms,” say documents filed Aug. 3.

No hearings had been scheduled for the board to discuss the matter and decide whether to revoke or suspend Hall’s doctor’s certificate, or take some other action. In addition to gross negligence, Hall is accused of repeated negligent acts and unprofessional conduct in her treatment of the baby.

Hall could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

On Sept. 29, 2016, a 6-day-old boy was brought to Hall after having been hospitalized for jaundice a few days earlier. The mother brought him to Hall because he was more yellow than the previous day and would not wake up in the night to feed, according to the accusation.

Hall found the child “normal but a little sleepy,” and attributed his sleepiness to jaundice, according to the accusation. She ordered bilirubin tests and recommended alternating breast and formula feeding, then suggested a follow-up visit in two months. The follow-up should have been scheduled within one to two weeks, the documents say.

The mother returned with her son Oct. 3 without an appointment because she was concerned he wasn’t eating enough and was not tolerating baby formula. Also, the baby had orange urine and seemed to have pain when defecating, she told Hall.

The doctor noted the boy’s weight was below his birth weight and that of his first trip to the clinic, and found his abdomen to be tender and firm, according to the accusation. Hall recommended the boy be put on a soy-based formula and, if he didn’t gain weight or tolerate feeding, that he may need to be seen by Children’s Hospital. The accusation says Hall did not obtain a urinalysis.

The mother and child returned to Hall the next day. The boy was more lethargic and had blood in his urine the previous day, the mother said.

Hall noted the child had dropped 4 ounces from the day before and told the mother to take him to Bakersfield Memorial Hospital for lethargy, according to the accusation. Hospital staff diagnosed the boy with sepsis caused by an infection of his urinary tract, and he was transferred to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

In L.A., the boy was treated for meningitis and found to have permanent brain damage, according to the accusation.

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