Amanda Abbiehl's friends speak out about lawsuit

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Earlier this week, we told you a one million dollar lawsuit had been filed in the death of a Michiana teen at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center.

It took months for the parents of Amanda Abbiehl to get autopsy results after she died at SJRMC on July 17, 2010.

Cindy and Brian Abbiehl told me in January that they believed a number of mistakes led to Amanda’s death and that she did not die of a heart attack caused by a virus.

They have reached a settlement with St. Joseph, which means they can no longer talk about the case, but their attorney says they remain committed to changing the way pain medication is delivered through pumps.

Last week, he filed a petition for excess damages from Indiana’s Patient Compensation Fund.

Now, Amanda’s friends are talking about what they finally learned about her death one year later because of that filing.

The bracelets they wear around their wrists are simple reminders of a friend they say was beautiful in every way.

Snapshots with family and friends serve as poignant reminders that she is gone.

Matt Miller, Amanda Abbiehl’s boyfriend of two years, was shocked to learn she had died just hours after he last saw her.

Lifelong friend, Alyssa Gosztola, spent hours with Amanda that night and was with her when a pain pump that the petition claims was not programmed properly was added to try to give Amanda more relief.

Alyssa says, “She was like, ‘Oh look, I’ve got a drug button. I can press it, and the drug will come right into me, and I can feel better.’”

Except, according to the petition for damages filed last week in Indianapolis, that did not happen.

The petition states, “Against her treating physicans’s orders, Amanda was given a constant dose of Hydromorphone once she was connected to the PCA pump…Amanda’s family, as well as SJRMC staff, have indicated it took several staff members a long time to program the pump.”

Alyssa, who is studying to be a nurse, also witnessed.

She says, “They were going back and forth and looking at the machine and looking at the portable computer thing.”

Everyone, including Cindy and Brian Abbiehl, thought Amanda would go home the next morning.

However, when morning game, the Abbiehl’s and Amanda’s friends got mind-shattering news.

Kayla Defrancisco, a high school friend of Amanda, says, “I said, ‘Hey, I’m here to see Amanda…I forgot her room number, let me know.’ Cindy was hysterical and she said, ‘She’s gone.’”

Sahar Sohrab learned to speak English from Amanda. She says she misses her friend, who was more like a sister, every day.

Sohrab says, “She had this big smile on her face and was full of energy. She wanted to teach me everything.”

Because the Abbiehl's had to wait nearly six months for Amanda's autopsy results, they had additional testing done, so she was just buried last month, nearly a year after her death.

Amanda's friends say that has given them some closure, but now, they want the same changes in hospital protocol that the Abbiehl's are committed to getting.

Longtime friend Alicia Buford says, “Honestly, I feel like if she would have gone home, maybe she would still be here.”

Lifelong friend Kelsey Krege says, “If you don’t care about your patients, then why are you even working there because we all cared about her.”

The friends say negative comments about the Abbiehl’s filing a lawsuit just for money are absurd.

Alicia says, “The Abbiehls aren’t money hungry. They donated money to Make-A-Wish Foundation.”

Sahar says, “It's not about the money; it's about fighting so this doesn't happen to any other patient or anyone's daughter, or best friend, or sister.”

This band of friends say they will continue to fight for protocol changes because Amanda would do the same for them.

Kayla says, “I can't go to my best friend’s house anymore. I have to go to her gravesite.”

To read the story about the lawsuit from earlier this week and to read the petition that addresses Amanda’s last night in the hospital, click here.