A Pennsylvania hospital and several physicians have reached a medical malpractice settlement with the family of a severely injured newborn that will pay a minimum of $12.5 million. The settlement will result in an initial cash payment in the amount of $8.3 million, with the medical malpractice defendants paying $5.8 million and Pennsylvania’s MCARE (Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund) paying $2.5 million. A portion of the settlement proceeds will be used to purchase annuities that will result in guaranteed payments in excess of $12.5 million.
The medical malpractice settlement, and the trust created to protect the injured child, were approved by a judge on July 26, 2017.
The Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawsuit was filed in 2010 and alleged that the child was born on May 28, 2008 in a local hospital in Scranton, Pennsylvania. A pediatric cardiologist at the hospital diagnosed the newborn with a congenital heart defect that required arterial switch surgery that was unavailable at the hospital where the delivery occurred. The pediatric cardiologist assured the newborn’s parents that the hospital that he suggested for the surgery, and the surgeon he recommended for the surgery, were excellent and appropriate providers for the surgery that their child needed. The parents deferred to the pediatric cardiologist’s recommendations and agreed to the transfer.
The surgeon recommended by the pediatric cardiologist performed the surgery at the recommended hospital, but the surgery was performed negligently, and there were more experienced and appropriate pediatric surgeons and hospitals than the surgeon and hospital recommended by the pediatric cardiologist, according to the parents’ Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawsuit.
The child suffered a series of cardiac arrests and strokes in the days after the surgery, which resulted in her severe and permanent brain injury. The child was transferred to another hospital where another surgeon performed corrective surgery. The child required a heart transplant in May 2009 at the same hospital where the corrective surgery took place.
MCARE was created in 2002 and is a special fund within the Pennsylvania State Treasury established, among other things, “to ensure reasonable compensation for persons injured due to medical negligence.” MCARE is used to pay claims against participating health care providers and eligible entities for losses or damages awarded in medical professional liability actions in excess of basic insurance coverage provided by primary professional liability insurance companies or self-insurers.
MCARE paid out $174 million in covered medical malpractice claims in 2016. MCARE’s claims payments for 2016 rose by 8.5% from 2015 (in 2015, MCARE paid $160 million in covered medical malpractice claims). MCARE ended calendar year 2016 with a positive balance of $12.1 million. MCARE’s 2016 payments combined with insurers’ payments totaled $623 million, as compared to $575 million in 2015. For 2016, the assessment revenue was $165 million, as compared to assessment revenue of $124 million for 2015.
If you or your baby suffered a birth injury during labor, delivery, or shortly after delivery in Pennsylvania or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Pennsylvania 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 case, if appropriate.
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