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Boston Children’s Hospital pays $15M to Massachusetts couple whose son died after sleep study

By WCVB Staff

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    PLYMOUTH, Massachusetts (WCVB) — A Massachusetts couple has received a $15 million settlement with Boston Children’s Hospital over the death of their infant son following a sleep study at that facility.

Becky and Ryan Kekula, of Plymouth, said their late son, Jackson, was 6 months old when he was at Boston Children’s Hospital for a car seat test and sleep study on Feb. 18, 2022.

Jackson and his parents have dwarfism and babies with the condition often have sleep apnea.

During the sleep study, Jackson’s oxygen levels and heart rate rapidly dropped to dangerously low levels.

The couple said that half an hour later, technicians told a nurse that something was wrong: Jackson was in cardiac arrest.

Hospital staff performed CPR, but severe damage was done to Jackson’s brain and his family took him off life support 12 days later.

The Kekulas said an investigation by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that a series of errors by hospital staff left Jackson without oxygen for more than 20 minutes.

“I keep telling people, Year 2 is harder than Year 1,” Becky Kekula said. “I think now that it is settled, there’s still a big hole because we’d much rather have him here than any amount of money.”

Jackson’s parents said that sharing what happened to their son is part of their healing process, which is why they refused to sign a nondisclosure agreement as part of the settlement. The Kekulas said they hope Jackson’s story prevents further tragedies.

We spoke with the parents a short time ago about their $15 million settlement with Boston Children’s Hospital, and the tragedy that led up to it. The parents say sharing what happened is part of their healing process, and they hope it prevents further tragedies.

Boston Children’s Hospital issued the following statement to NewsCenter 5 in regard to this case:

“We express our deepest condolences and apologize to the family for the loss of their son. Following this incident, we immediately stopped all sleep studies and began a thorough review of what occurred. We examined our policies, staff training, competencies and all systems that support sleep lab studies, including scheduling, ordering, triaging and performing the actual study.

“We identified and implemented several improvements for how we conduct sleep studies, including a revision of responsibilities of team members; hands-on skills training and education for sleep lab staff; enhanced sleep technologist orientation and ongoing training; modification of the ordering and triage process that assesses potential risks to patients; and a review of the environment in which testing is conducted. After this review and implementation of these improvements, sleep studies were reinstated in a phased manner to ensure patient safety.

“We continue to closely monitor the care delivery of sleep studies to ensure the highest levels of quality and safety for our patients and their families. We maintain our system-wide commitment to prioritizing and improving quality and safety as the foundation of all the care provided at Boston Children’s Hospital.”

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