A Prince George's County judge yesterday cleared the way for the trial of a $3.25 million malpractice suit filed against Prince George's General Hospital by a man whose prematurely born child became blind after receiving too much oxygen in an incubator.
The child, Christina M. Moore of New Carrollton, is now 9 years old and a student at Maryland School for the Blind in Baltimore.
The suit, which names the county, the hospital and four physicians, alleges that the physicians permitted Moore to receive too much oxygen while in her incubator, causing hemorrhages in the retina of her eye. The hemorrhages, in turn, caused scarring of the retina that gradually resulted in blindness, according to a deposition filed in court.
The suit charges that the doctors failed to monitor the oxygen level in the incubator as frequently as they should have.
Hospital administrators Robin Hagaman and Fred Cyran refused to comment on the case, but James P. Salmon, the lawyer for the county and for one of the physicians named in the suit, said yesterday he will argue that the county was not negligent in its treatment of the child. "If the oxygen had not been administered, the baby's life would have been in jeopardy," Salmon said.
Physicians contacted by Andrew E. Greenwald, the attorney for Joseph Moore, Christina's father, allege in letters filed in court that the infant needed oxygen only occasionally to combat "recurrent periods of respiratory arrest," and that the amount of oxygen she received should have been monitored by a physician on an hourly basis.
"The record gives no evidence that physicians in charge were aware of, let alone ordered" oxygen to be administered to the child at the levels she actually received, wrote Dr. Charles Kennedy, professor of pediatrics at Georgetown University Hospital.
Another physician, Dr. Donald Levitt, wrote that Christina Moore probably did not need oxygen at all.
The four physicians named in the suit are Reza M. Morifar, of Fairfax, Karakat S. Gohulanthan and Indira Gohulanthan, both of Seabrook, Md., and Mary Kay Sartwell of Silver Spring.
The county and the hospital sought yesterday to have the suit dismissed on the grounds that the family had failed to notify them of the child's problem soon enough after the incident. Judge Howard S. Chasanow denied the hospital's motion and set a trial date for May.