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Parents sue over son's swine flu death

EUGENE — The parents of a 5-year-old boy who died from the swine flu in 2013 have filed a $2 million lawsuit against a local hospital and doctors who treated their son.

Ronan Burgess, of Eugene, died Dec. 29, 2013 from the H1N1 virus at a Portland hospital.

The Register-Guard reports that according to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Lane County Circuit Court, Ronan was turned away from the emergency room on Christmas Eve after he was examined by a doctor and told his collapsed airway was not concerning.

Parents Calandra and Christopher Burgess did not respond to a call for further comment on the lawsuit, but days after Ronan's death, Calandra Burgess said it was important no one else lose their child.

"I do not want this to ever happen to another parent, another child, ever again. I don't want this to happen to anyone else," she told the Register-Guard in 2013.

The suit names PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield, Drs. William Miller and Mary McKee, Eugene Emergency Physicians, Oregon Medical Group, and 10 unnamed others as defendants.

RiverBend spokeswoman Monique Danziger says the hospital takes patient safety very seriously.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time," Danziger said Wednesday. "PeaceHealth takes patient safety very seriously. We have a strong record of adherence to national standards, and participate in voluntary surveys of our quality and safety standards every year."

According to the lawsuit, Ronan had been suffering from flu-like symptoms for three days when he woke with a 104.7 degree fever on Dec. 23, 2013. His primary care doctor, McKee, diagnosed Ronan with the coup and gave him a prescription for a steroid to help open his airways.

He improved slightly, but on Christmas Eve once again was having a hard time breathing. His parents took him to the emergency room where Miller listened to his lungs before getting an X-ray of Ronan's chest and then discharged him from the emergency room, according to the suit.

At dinner the next day, Ronan collapsed. He was taken to Riverbend and later transferred to Oregon Health & Science University's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Portland by ambulance, the suit says.

The lawsuit alleges that McKee and Miller failed to properly diagnose or hospitalize Ronan, and failed to exercise reasonable prudence.