On November 22, 2013, after eight hours of jury deliberations, a Prince George’s County Maryland medical malpractice jury returned its $9.5 million verdict in favor of a minor child and her family against a hospital emergency room nurse and the company that provided emergency room services in the hospital, as compensation for the child developing cerebral palsy as an infant due to her bacterial infection not being timely diagnosed and treated.
The medical malpractice jury awarded $5 million for future medical expenses, $1.5 million for future lost earnings, and $3 million in noneconomic damages. The noneconomic damages award will be reduced to $650,000, pursuant to Maryland’s cap (limit) on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases at the time of the injury.
The Underlying Facts
Late on December 4, 2005, when the child was two-weeks-old, her parents brought her to the local hospital emergency room because she missed several feedings and she appeared short of breath. The emergency room physician ordered medical tests and the on-call pediatric doctor was consulted. However, the pediatric doctor was not made aware of the infant’s signs of infection before the parents and the child were sent home from the emergency room with instructions to take the infant to her pediatrician a few days later.
The results of the blood tests ordered in the hospital emergency room that showed that the infant had a bacterial infection (Group B streptococcus (“Group B strep”), that can result in meningitis in infants) were available to the emergency room personnel at 9:20 a.m. the next morning, which result was a critical lab value that required immediate action, but the parents were not notified of the blood test results until more than 30 hours after the blood test. By the time the infant was treated for her bacterial infection, she had developed meningitis and she suffered seizures that the medical malpractice complaint alleged were due to the negligent delay in diagnosing and treating the infant’s Group B strep infection.
After the verdict, the lawyer for the company that provided the emergency room services stated, “The verdict was against the weight of evidence and [the case] should not have gone to the jury. There was no sufficient evidence of any departures from the standard of care by Maryland Provo-I.” He further stated that he would be filing post-trial motions and an appeal, if necessary.
The Maryland malpractice case was filed on March 30, 2011 and the 11-day trial began on November 4, 2013. The trial ended with the jury’s verdict just hours before the child turned 8 years old.
Source: The Daily Record, November 27, 2013. Gregg v. Koon, Case No.: CAL11-08836.
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