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Penn State Health Holy Spirit Medical Center faces lawsuit for alleged medical malpractice

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Old Main on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 in University Park, Pa.

Penn State Health Holy Spirit Medical Center was sued Friday by Larry Riley Jr., a Florida man, following the death of his father Larry Riley Sr., who died in 2019 due to alleged medical malpractice.

Andrew Hench, a registered nurse, administered 100 mg of Labetalol after Riley Sr. was prescribed 20 mg, which allegedly resulted in Riley Sr.'s death, according to court documents.

Summons for the civil action were filed Monday, against Hench, Penn State Health Holy Spirit Medical Center and Holy Spirit Hospital of the Sisters of Christian Charity Inc. — which is known as Geisinger Holy Spirit Hospital.

Hench has been charged with survival action, wrongful death action and punitive damages, court documents said.

The other defendants have been charged with survival action vicarious liability, survival action corporate negligence, wrongful death action and punitive damages.

On Nov. 9, 2019, Riley Sr. was admitted to Select Specialty Hospital in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania with pneumonia and hypoxemic respiratory failure, according to court documents.

Riley Sr. was transferred to Geisinger Holy Spirit and Penn State Health’s Intensive Care Unit on Dec. 23, 2019, where he was diagnosed with nosocomial pneumonia, acute chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute chronic renal failure, obstructive sleep apnea and generalized debility as well as hypoxemic respiratory failure, according to court documents.

Riley Sr.’s pulse was 140 beats per minute with a blood pressure of 256/151, court documents said. According to the National Institute of Health, 120/80 is a normal blood pressure.

At 7:44 p.m. on the night he was transferred, Riley Sr. was intubated, and Physician’s Assistant Melissa Davis ordered 20 mg of Labetalol — a medication used to lower blood pressure — to ease Riley Sr.’s hypertension.

At approximately 8 p.m., Hench administered 100 mg of Labetalol to Riley Sr., and 52 minutes later, Riley Sr. was pronounced dead.

For 37 minutes, care providers attempted to resuscitate Riley Sr. unsuccessfully, the court documents said.

At 9:41 p.m., Hench documented he accidentally gave a 100 mg dose instead of the 20 mg prescribed.

According to the court documents, Riley Sr.’s cause of death was acute Labetalol toxicity.

Riley Jr. has filed the lawsuit as a civil action medical professional liability and is demanding a jury trial.

The "amount in controversy" in this matter exceeds the sum or value of $75,000 and "other such relief as the Court deems it," according to the documents.

The lawsuit is in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania under Honorable Judge Sylvia Rambo.



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