On January 8, 2015, a New Jersey state court approved a $8 million settlement for a minor child who suffered serious and permanent injuries during birth, allegedly due to medical negligence. The now 6-year-old child suffered cerebral palsy, mental retardation, disfigurement, and suffers from incontinence due to alleged mismanagement of his birth. Even though the child is permanently neurologically impaired due to the alleged medical malpractice, he is expected to live a normal lifespan as long as he receives proper care and necessary services.
The New Jersey birth injury claim alleged that labor and delivery were proceeding normally until the attending physician turned over the care and monitoring of the woman to hospital residents who allegedly failed to timely recognize and respond to fetal distress that was indicated by a dramatic change in the fetal heart rate. The fetus’ deteriorating condition continued for hours without proper response by the medical staff, which resulted in a prolonged period of time during which the fetus was not receiving sufficient oxygen to its brain. The deprivation of oxygen led to a severe, irreversible brain injury. The attending physician was alleged to have failed to properly supervise the residents assigned to the woman’s care, and to have failed to properly monitor his patient.
In discussing the court’s approval of the medical malpractice settlement, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers stated, “This child’s brain damage was entirely preventable had the doctors followed standard medical practice … This $8,000,000 settlement also sounds an alarm to health care providers everywhere that the injured patient isn’t the only one that pays a high price when health care providers fail to follow standard and safe medical practices. The court system exists to hold health care providers accountable when they ignore patient safety.”
Another of the plaintiff’s lawyers stated, “This settlement assures that those whose negligence injured this child, and not the taxpayers, will bear the burden for the costs of the extraordinary care he needs for the rest of his life.”
The New Jersey medical malpractice claim filed on behalf of the injured child named the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey as a defendant, along with others.
This New Jersey medical malpractice case, and its settlement, highlight an important purpose of medical malpractice laws in the United States: when patients are catastrophically injured due to medical negligence, those whose negligent actions or omissions were the cause of the injuries must be held financially responsible for the damages and expenses that result from the wrongdoing; otherwise, the responsibility to pay for the expensive medical care of malpractice victims would be shifted to the taxpayers, who would have to pay the costs of life-long medical care and services – why should the taxpayers have to pay for the negligence of medical providers who cause avoidable injuries to patients?
If your child suffered a birth injury, such as a brain injury and/or cerebral palsy, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you in a birth injury medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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