On June 7, 2016, a Philadelphia medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $1.3 million, by a vote of eleven to one after six days of trial, finding that the defendant anesthesiologist was negligent when she administered too much calcium to a newborn following his open heart surgery that was performed to correct a heart defect. The surgeon who had performed the delicate heart surgery on the two-day-old child wrote in the medical records that the child had suffered a hypercalcemic cardiac arrest.
The child was born on May 24, 2011 and was diagnosed at birth with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, an unusually narrow aorta, and other medical problems. A decision was made to perform the recommended complex heart surgery at the hospital, which was performed on May 26, 2011, after which the child appeared to be doing reasonably well. Nonetheless, the surgeon decided to leave the surgical incision on the child’s chest open because he was concerned that closing the incision immediately after the surgery may be difficult for the child to tolerate because of swelling of the child’s heart.
On June 6, 2011 (eleven days after the surgery), the child’s chest incision was closed. The defendant anesthesiologist then administered 400 milligrams of calcium to the child over a period of one-half-hour, to help the child’s heart beat stronger. Shortly after administering the calcium, the child’s heart stopped beating. It took thirteen minutes to revive the child. Tragically, the child died nine days later.
The child’s mother filed a medical malpractice case against the defendant anesthesiologist on behalf of her child’s estate. The defense argued that the dosage of calcium was properly and that the child died due to his severe heart defects.
The plaintiff had also named the hospital where the surgery took place as a defendant, but the hospital was removed from the case after the parties stipulated that the defendant anesthesiologist was acting as an agent of the hospital with regard to her treatment of the plaintiff’s child.
A local Philadelphia newspaper reported in February 2016 that 24% of newborns who had undergone complex heart surgery between 2009 and 2014 at the same hospital had died (the national average is 10%). A subsequent investigation by the newspaper found that newborns who had complex heart surgery at the same hospital had spent far longer recovery times in the hospital after surgery, which increased the risk of the newborns suffering hospital-acquired infections and other complications.
It has been reported that the hospital suspended nonemergency heart surgeries at the hospital more than four months ago, pending the results of an internal review.
If you or a loved one suffered a serious birth injury in Philadelphia or elsewhere in the United States, you should promptly find a birth injury lawyer in Philadelphia or in your U.S. state who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you and your child in a birth injury case, if appropriate.
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