Medical malpractice results in cerebral palsy

Looking forward to the birth of a child is always an exciting time. Florida parents who are expecting rely on their doctors and medical facilities to provide health care so that their children are not harmed during the pregnancy, birth and delivery. When a mistake is made by a health care facility or a doctor or nurse, those errors can be catastrophic.

This is what the family of a now three-year-old child claimed in a medical malpractice lawsuit. This child suffered severe brain injuries. The child’s mother blamed her brain damage on the negligence of the doctor and the hospital.

This story is particularly shocking for two reasons. One is that the baby was pronounced dead by the attending physician after searching for a heartbeat on an outdated and unmaintained ultrasound machine. There was no ultrasound technician at the hospital and it took 81 minutes for one to show up at the hospital and verify that the baby was dead.

However, on closer inspection the baby did have a heartbeat. An emergency C-section was then performed, but by then it was too late; the baby had already suffered such severe brain damage that the child was left with cerebral palsy.

So the question then was raised whether the baby did in fact die, as the doctor said and then came back to life, or whether somehow the doctor or the hospital was to blame for not realizing that the baby was still alive, but struggling to survive.

The second reason that this story is remarkable is that the jury in this case found that the doctors were not to blame, but instead held the hospital 100 percent responsible for this child’s debilitating injuries. The jury awarded the child and her family a record $78.5 million for emotional distress, and to help compensate for the medical expenses and care that has and will be required for this child.

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, “Pottstown hospital ordered to pay $78.5 million,” Jeff Blumenthal and John George, May 4, 2012