On April 20, 2012, a California medical malpractice jury awarded $74,525,000 to the family of a newborn who suffered a permanent, life-changing brain injury leading to the baby’s cerebral palsy in 2009. The majority of the jury’s award will go towards the payment of the medical expenses that are expected to be incurred on behalf of the now 3-year-old girl for the rest of her life.
The parents’ medical malpractice claim against the delivering obstetrician alleged that the doctor failed to assess the woman’s contractions for 30 minutes, failed to perform an episiotomy, failed to attempt using vacuum to deliver the baby, and failed to use forceps during the more than four hours of the second-stage of labor and prolonged pushing by the woman and crowning of the baby’s head. During labor, the baby’s heart rate fluctuated so much that the baby should been delivered expeditiously, according to the medical malpractice claim.
The medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the hospital failed to properly intubate or ventilate the newborn and further alleged that the hospital disposed of the baby’s cord blood that could have been used to show that the baby’s brain damage occurred during the delivery. It was also alleged that the hospital destroyed evidence and falsified medical records in an attempt to hide medical mistakes.
The defense argued that the lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain that led to her brain injury and her cerebral palsy was due to a blockage of mucus in the baby’s airway. The medical malpractice jury that deliberated for two days before rending its verdict sided with the parents and against the long-time obstetrician, who has vowed to appeal the jury’s verdict. The hospital where the baby was delivered had settled its responsibility for the incident with the parents shortly before the medical malpractice trial.
Medical malpractice claims for injuries caused by medical mistakes or medical errors involving the expectant mother or the baby during the pregnancy, during labor, or during delivery tend to be large (expensive) claims because permanent injuries suffered by babies in the womb, at birth, or shortly after birth will often last the lifetime of the newborn, which may be 70 years or longer. Furthermore, future medical expenses related to the injuries suffered as a result of medical malpractice will tend to be large because they may be incurred over a period of 70 years or longer.
If you or your baby suffered birth injuries as a result of possible medical malpractice, you should promptly contact a local medical malpractice attorney to investigate your medical malpractice claim to determine if you have a valid claim for medical negligence.
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