PA Hospital Cited in Boy’s Heating Blanket Death

HERSHEY, PA – The Pennsylvania Health Department has cited Penn State Hershey Medical Center in the death of a 6-year-old boy whose temperature soared to 107 degrees while he was under a special heating blanket.

The health department further cited the medical center for failing to immediately report the death to a state agency that studies such events to prevent repeats.

The child, who was not identified, was brought to the Medical Center in January with a below normal temperature.

According to a statement issued by the Center, the boy had “ongoing, complex and life-limiting health issues.” He was placed under a “Bair Hugger” blanket which raises a patient’s temperature through forced hot air.

In the statement, the hospital acknowledged that a review of his chart revealed his temperature had not been recorded once over a 10-hour period.

After spending the night in the E.D., his blood pressure dropped and his temperature rose to 107 degrees, prompting escalation to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit the following morning. He died several hours later, the hospital statement said.

The Health Department said the hospital failed to report the boy’s death until 77 days later, despite protocol calling for 24 hours’ notice. The hospital received five citations related to the case and has launched its own investigation. It has also limited use of the Bair Hugger blanket for pediatric patients.