Nurse called ill-prepared for Fayette baby's emergency
By Liz Zemba
Published: Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A premature Fayette County baby who died while under the care of a visiting nurse was making progress toward no longer needing a ventilator to help him breathe, according to the former director of a statewide program that assists families of such children.
“He was doing well and beginning to wean off the ventilator,” Deborah Boroughs testified on Monday during a pretrial hearing for Jackie Yeagley. “He was really headed physically in the right direction.”
Yeagley, 43, of North Union is charged by state police at Uniontown with child endangerment in the Dec. 4, 2010, death of 7-month-old Derek Miskanin Jr.
Yeagley was caring for Derek overnight in the infant's home when the boy began to experience breathing problems, according to a criminal complaint filed by police.
Although multiple alarms sounded when the boy first had trouble breathing at 12:20 a.m., police said, Yeagley failed to act.
Derek was pronounced dead at 1:27 a.m. Dec. 4 in the emergency room at Uniontown Hospital, according to the complaint.
Dr. Phillip Reilly, the county coroner, listed the cause of death as failure to maintain airway control and the manner of death as accidental.
A coroner's jury declared the death an avoidable accident and found Yeagley negligent following an inquest on Dec. 14, 2011. Police filed the criminal charges in December 2012.
Boroughs is a nurse and the former administrative director of the Pennsylvania Ventilator Assisted Children's Home Program. The agency helps coordinate the “complex care” of ventilator-dependent children between hospitals and homes, she testified.
Boroughs testified for the prosecution during a hearing on a motion filed by defense attorney Christopher M. Capozzi of Pittsburgh. Capozzi wants Senior Judge Gerald Solomon to dismiss the child endangerment charge against Yeagley on the grounds prosecutors do not have enough evidence to support it.
Boroughs testified Yeagley received inadequate training on the ventilator through her employer and failed to respond appropriately when a problem arose.
The ventilator produced multiple alarms indicating a problem with the child's tracheostomy tube, Boroughs testified, but the alarms were repeatedly silenced. Boroughs testified the repeated alarms indicated there was a problem with the tube that was not fixed.
Boroughs testified Yeagley administered CPR in an improper manner and waited too long to notify the parents, who had been trained on how to respond in an emergency.
“From there, it just escalated,” Boroughs testified. “She was ill-prepared to respond to an emergency.”
Capozzi pointed out through cross-examination that Boroughs' findings were partially based on summaries of events prepared by an attorney representing the parents in a civil lawsuit. He noted that records show the ventilator was reset for unknown reasons on several occasions prior to Yeagley assuming care of the child.
Solomon did not immediately rule on Capozzi's request to dismiss the charges.
Yeagley allowed her nursing license to expire on Oct. 31, according to state records. She is free on $25,000 unsecured bond.
The civil lawsuit names as defendants Yeagley and her employer at the time of Derek's death, Pediatric Services of America.
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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