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Jury Finds Errors of Two Doctors From Children’s Hospital Lead to Death of Young Boy

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3-year-old Jason Fox was born in July 2001 with a congenital heart defect known as Tetralogy of Fallot, a condition that affects the blood flow to the heart. In Jason’s case, his condition was severe enough to prevent enough oxygen from reaching his organs and limbs. During the first two years of his life, Jason underwent eight surgeries–none of which were succesful enough to help his condition. However, according to Jason’s parents, he was still a "playful and active little boy" when they decided to try for one last surgery at the reknowned Children’s Hospital Boston.

Doctor James Lock, the then physician-in-chief at the hospital, said that he could help the boy’s condition by widening the arteries to his heart. Nevertheless, hours after the surgery, Jason suffered a seizure. Afterward, Jason was transferred to the ICU and doctors performed an MRI and a CAT scan to detect the cause of the seizure. During the MRI, doctors found a tiny piece of metal–likely from a medical tool–that had broken off during a procedure. However, doctors could not conclude if the piece of metal was from the current surgery, or from a previous surgery. Neverthless, the CAT scan revealed that contrast dye, a dye injected during surgery so that doctors can see a patient’s anatomy better, had leaked into Jason’s brain. By the time Jason left the hospital, he had sustained enough brain damage that he was unable to walk or speak. Jason eventually died in December 2004–a year and a half after the surgery took place.

Yesterday a Suffolk County Jury found the two doctors involved in the surgery, Dr. James Lock and the anesthesiologist, Dr. James A. DiNardo, caused the death of Jason Fox and voted to award his parents $15 million in damages. However, the Foxs will not receive the full amount because of an agreement reached prior to the verdict. Furthermore, the Board of Registration in Medicine is investigating Lock and one other physician involved in the matter, Dr. Peter Laussen, who directed the cardiac intensive care unit. The board already investigated Dr. DiNardo last year, as well as Doctors Lock and Laussen, but decided to reopen the investigation on Lock and Laussen because of information that revealed that the two doctors may not have provided complete information about the treatment Jason received. In fact, Jason’s parents, Andrea and Brian Fox, believed the doctors lied about their actions when treating Jason. In a telephone interview after the jury verdict, the Foxs stated:

“The only protection individuals have when you go up against powerful Harvard, top-ranked physicians is the jury system, and that worked.