On May 4, 2012, a Philadelphia medical malpractice jury returned a verdict in the amount of $78.5 million in favor of the plaintiffs for the severe and permanent brain damage suffered by their newborn that the obstetrician delayed in delivering because he believed that the baby had died in the womb. The damages awarded were for future medical care, lost earnings, and pain and suffering and emotional distress for the now 3-year-old child.
The Underlying Facts Of This Medical Malpractice Case
On August 10, 2008, the 36-weeks-pregnant expectant mother went to the local hospital with complaints of abdominal pain. An ultrasound done at that time using allegedly outdated and unmaintained equipment could not detect fetal cardiac activity. Further testing was ordered but it took more than one hour for a confirming ultrasound to be performed. The pregnant woman underwent an emergency cesarean section delivery of her baby, which was born lethargic and hypotonic at the time of birth.
The baby received emergency medical transport for further treatment at a larger, better equipped Philadelphia hospital. However, it was alleged that the newborn’s endotracheal tube became clotted with blood during the emergency medical transfer that the neonatologist who accompanied the baby during the transport negligently failed to monitor that resulted in compromising the baby’s respiratory status. As a result, the baby was in poor respiratory condition upon arrival at the Philadelphia hospital.
The baby sustained a permanent but allegedly preventable hypoxic brain injury resulting in spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy.
The defendant obstetrician reportedly maintained throughout the medical malpractice litigation that he had performed the ultrasound properly and that he was certain that the baby had died in the womb but then miraculously came back to life 81 minutes later.
The Philadelphia medical malpractice jury verdict may seem extraordinarily high until you consider the enormous costs of the child’s future medical expenses during her entire lifetime, the child’s and her parents’ huge emotional pain and suffering associated with a lifetime of “what ifs” and the loss of what the child may have achieved had her treatment during labor, delivery, and immediately after birth been handled appropriately and timely.
The miraculous birth of a child is a warmly anticipated but anxious time for the expecting parents. Many parents-to-be hold their breaths for the entire pregnancy until a healthy and happy newborn is delivered into their waiting arms. Only then do the parents enjoy some relief until they step into the next phase of parenthood, which lasts a lifetime.
When the birthing process is negligently performed or monitored by the health care providers upon whom the expecting parents must fully and completely rely, the consequences may be insurmountable for the parents and their baby. The enormous costs associated with providing for the unanticipated needs of the child must be incurred either by the innocent parents or by the health care providers whose negligent care resulted in the terrible outcome. Who should be responsible for such losses and expenses that should have and could have been avoided — the parents who were promised that they and their baby would receive competent and necessary care or the health care providers who were in the sole position of avoiding the bad outcome?
If you have suffered the emotional pain and incurred the devastating expenses associated with medical negligence that resulted in birth injuries, the prompt advice from a medical malpractice attorney in your local area may help you decide if you wish to bring a medical malpractice claim against the responsible medical providers.
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