The Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund reportedly has agreed to pay $22.5 million to settle a Wisconsin medical malpractice lawsuit alleging that a resident physician who was providing anesthesia services during surgery on a 6-week-old boy at UW Health’s American Family Children’s Hospital in April 2016 was medically negligent. The surgery itself to address a birth defect (tethered cord) was successful.
The Wisconsin medical malpractice plaintiffs alleged that the resident, who was in his last year of a residency program, breached the applicable standard of care when he negligently failed to appropriately react to the infant’s prolonged low blood pressure readings, resulting in a profound brain injury that prevents the now 3-year-old from walking and speaking. The child presently functions at the level of a 2-year-old and will likely remain at that functional level. He is also blind due to his injuries.
Of the $22.5 million settlement proceeds, the child’s parents received close to $1.9 million, the plaintiffs’ Wisconsin medical malpractice lawyer received $4.5 million, and the balance was placed into two account’s on behalf of the child to pay for his long-term care. The settlement was the second-largest award made by the Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund.
The Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (“Fund”) attempted to reduce its financial exposure by arguing that the resident’s supervisor, who is a UW-Madison employee, was responsible for the child’s catastrophic injuries (the resident also argued that his supervisor was primarily responsible for the infant’s injuries). Because the supervisor is a UW-Madison employee, the applicable cap on damages would be $250,000. Nonetheless, the Fund agreed to settle the plaintiffs’ Wisconsin medical malpractice claim for the full $22.5 million (Wisconsin also agreed to invest funds set aside for long-term care for injured patients at a higher interest rate and retroactively add $13 million to accounts from previous cases).
Physicians in Wisconsin are required to have private medical malpractice insurance to cover payments up to $1 million, and to pay into the Fund to cover payments in excess of their private malpractice insurance coverage. Wisconsin law limits non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases to $750,000.
A spokesperson for UW Health stated in reference to the settlement, “While UW Health appreciates that this matter has been legally resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, we are painfully aware that words cannot capture the full reality of the situation for this family. Nonetheless, we extend our deepest compassion to the [the plaintiffs].”
If you or your baby suffered a birth injury (or worse) during labor, delivery, or shortly after birth in Wisconsin or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Wisconsin birth injury lawyer, or a birth injury lawyer in your state, who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you and your child in a birth injury medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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