Jury awards $78.5 million for cerebral palsy birth injury

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on May 10, 2012 in Medical Malpractice

Pregnancy and the miracle of birth always involve some risk for West Virginia mothers and infants. In fact, even when physicians and hospital staff do everything right, it isn't always possible to avoid an unfortunate outcome. There have been and continue to be many medical malpractice cases, however, where hospitals, doctors, nurses and others utterly fail in their duty to provide mothers, unborn fetuses and newborn infants with competent medical care

As we mentioned in our last medical malpractice blog post on a birth injury case, juries often render the largest birth injury verdicts in cases where infants have suffered damage that will require a lifetime of care and expense. These verdicts serve two important purposes. First and foremost, they provide victims with the financial resources needed to ensure quality care and as much quality of life as possible for injured children. Second, they send an important message to the medical community to do better and not repeat such mistakes.

This time the jury that sent that message was seated in a Philadelphia courtroom and the message was loud and clear: $78.5 million for the mother of a 3-year-old boy who developed cerebral palsy as the result of faulty diagnostic procedures at a Pennsylvania hospital.

The story began when signs of complications prompted the woman to go to the hospital in question in August 2008. While there, the doctor assigned to handle her case performed an ultrasound, detected no fetal heartbeat, assumed the baby was already dead and took no further immediate actions. A little over an hour later, however, a second ultrasound test performed by other staff members detected a fetal heartbeat, which prompted an emergency C-section.

In court, attorneys for the woman contended the boy developed cerebral palsy during the 81-minute delay between the first and second ultrasound tests. They also argued that the delay could have been avoided if the hospital had had a trained ultrasound technician on duty and equipment that wasn't outdated. The jury decided the hospital was the real culprit in this medical malpractice case and did not assign fault to the doctor who performed the first ultrasound.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, "Phila. Jury awards $78.5M in medical malpractice case," Chris Mondics, May 6, 2012

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