Beebe Healthcare settles suit over locked restroom

Plaque will remember Christina Atkins
February 14, 2014
Christina Atkins was 14 and a freshman at Cape Henlopen High School when she unexpectedly died in 2011. COURTESY ATKINS FAMILY

Beebe Healthcare has reached a settlement with the family of a girl who died in 2011 after collapsing in a locked bathroom.

“The parties have amicably resolved the case to everyone's mutual satisfaction,” said Marcy B. Jack, vice president of Quality, Safety and Risk Management for Beebe Healthcare, in a prepared statement.

As a condition of the settlement, no details of the agreement will be released, according to Beebe Healthcare Director of Marketing and Communications Kelly Griffin. Bonnie Atkins could not be reached for comment.

The family of Christina Atkins filed a lawsuit against the hospital in September 2012 seeking compensation from Beebe for emotional pain and anguish they and 14-year-old Christina experienced along with compensation for funeral, medical and court costs.

Christina's mother, Bonnie, took Christina to Beebe at the recommendation of a school nurse who described the Cape Henlopen High School freshman as feverish and lethargic.

According to the lawsuit, Christina went into a hospital restroom, locked it and collapsed. No one had a key to the door; 10 minutes later a security guard opened it.

“When they opened the door, I knew she was gone,” Atkins said in a previous interview.

Christina was flown to A.I. duPont Hospital where she died two days later.

In Beebe's statement, Jack says the hospital has put into place changes to its locking bathrooms.

The hospital said in its efforts to provide high reliability healthcare, it launched a Great Catch Program. The program rewards and recognizes those within Beebe who have identified a potential safety issue, Jack said.

“Rewarding and recognizing those who speak up supports a culture of safety,” she said. “The recognition will come in the form of the winner's photograph within Beebe who has identified a potential safety issue within our system.”

In honor of Christina, Jack said, the plaque will remember her.

“It is hoped that each person who sees the plaque and participates in the Great Catch Program will act on the power they have as an individual to make a difference in promoting safety for those in our community and thereby, honoring Miss Atkins,” she said.

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