When a Georgia boy was born, his pediatricians failed to detect that he suffered from maple syrup urine disease (MSUD), a newborn metabolic disorder which prevented him from being able to metabolize certain types of food. When the boy became ill, his parents brought him to the well-respected local hospital. During a protracted stay, the hospital failed to recognize that he was displaying classic symptoms of MSUD and failed to provide the appropriate dietary supplement. Instead the hospital embarked on a course of treatment that caused permanent neurological damage. Because of Chuck Hehmeyer’s national reputation for helping children with metabolic disorders, the family sought his assistance. Mr. Hehmeyer documented the proper diagnosis, established that the proper treatment would have prevented any injury, and demonstrated through compelling video presentation the devastating effects of the medical errors. Prior to trial, the hospital settled the claims against it, and the case went to trial against the pediatricians. The jury agreed completely with Mr. Hehmeyer’s analysis and rendered a verdict in the boy’s favor. The pediatricians then settled, yielding a total confidential recovery exceeding ten million dollars.
After a California family found out their son was injured by the delayed diagnosis of his metabolic disorder, they asked Chuck Hehmeyer to use his expertise in this field to review his care. Chuck discovered that the hospital had been participating in a state pilot program to provide supplemental metabolic screening to all newborns, but had failed to offer the test to this family. The hospital argued that it was not obligated to provide the screening because it was a “pilot” program, despite knowing that the inexpensive screening could have detected the child’s disorder and, with prompt diet changes, prevented a lifetime of disability. As Chuck has done in a number of states, he convinced the hospital that, even when there is not a state mandate, good medical care mandates screening all children for metabolic disorders.
Because of Chuck Hehmeyer’s national reputation as an advocate for children with rare diseases, an Arizona family asked Chuck to investigate why their baby suffered brain damage at an emergency room. Chuck learned that the child had a previously undiagnosed mitochondrial disorder. The ER should have performed a glucose check when the child arrived unresponsive, but the ER staff failed to do so. This delay in providing glucose resulted in the boy suffering brain damage.