On May 18, 2012, a Virginia medical malpractice jury returned a verdict in the amount of $9 million after ten days of trial and less than four hours of jury deliberation against two Virginia obstetricians as a result of alleged negligent medical care that resulted in a baby being born severely and permanently injured. The medical malpractice claims included performing an unnecessary invasive and potentially risky medical test without the consent of the expectant mother and improperly inducing labor without obtaining the proper consent from the patient.
The first obstetrician decided to perform an amniocentesis to check on the lung development of the fetus before inducing labor (amniocentesis involves inserting a needle under ultrasound guidance into the amniotic sac to extract a small amount of amniotic fluid that contains fetal cells in order to evaluate the developing fetus for certain abnormal genetic and other conditions). It was alleged that the fetus was injured during the amniocentesis, which the medical malpractice defendants denied, and that the patient was not properly informed before performing the procedure.
The medical malpractice lawsuit also claimed that the mother, who had gestational diabetes, should not have had her labor induced. The first obstetrician turned over the care of the woman to his partner, who then ordered that the woman’s labor be induced without consulting with the woman, after which the woman’s care was turned over to her family practitioner (the woman’s medical experts testified that the standard of care required that the baby should have been delivered by Cesarean section).
The newborn suffered from a dangerously low blood pressure at the time of birth with a loss of between one-third to one-half of her normal blood volume, allegedly due to an injury to the fetus during the amniocentesis. The fetus’ kidneys had been destroyed that required two kidney transplant procedures. The child suffers from cerebral palsy allegedly due to a brain injury.
The medical expenses incurred for the now 10-year-old girl were in excess of $1.7 million in the past and may be as much as $8 million in the future. Because of Virginia’s cap on medical malpractice damages, the mother’s financial recovery is capped at $1.4 million and her daughter’s financial recovery is likewise capped at $1.4 million. The attorneys for the mother and child are contemplating whether this case should be appealed to challenge the Virginia cap on recoverable medical malpractice damages.
If the defendant medical malpractice obstetricians whom the medical malpractice jury determined committed medical malpractice that resulted in the child’s life-long severe disabilities and injuries are not held fully responsible for the payment of the past and future medical expenses incurred on behalf of the child due solely to their medical negligence, then who should have to pay for those medical expenses?
If the negligent doctors’ medical malpractice insurance company is relieved of its contractual responsibility and duty to pay the medical malpractice judgments, then it would appear that the mother’s health insurance company or, more likely, the rest of us will have to pay for the child’s past and future medical expenses when our tax dollars that finance Medicaid are used to pay for the child’s medical care.
If you or a family member may have been injured due to medical malpractice, you owe it to yourself and your family to consult with a local medical malpractice attorney who may be able to investigate your possible medical malpractice claim for you.
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