The personal and financial hardship of a disability is severe and impacts a family for life. Victims suffer a lifetime of cognitive and physical injuries, while their families are burdened with responsibility and care for their adult children. Last week, a jury agreed that the hardship was overwhelming and awarded a woman $78.5 million for her son who suffers from cerebral palsy because of faulty diagnostic procedures by a Pennsylvania hospital where the child was delivered.
The plaintiff had arrived at the hospital with complications caused by a lack of oxygen to her unborn child. According to experts, the brain damage could have been averted had the doctors pursued a prompt delivery. The woman was given an immediate ultrasound when the doctor concluded that the fetus was already dead. When the hospital staff performed a later, second ultrasound, a fetal heartbeat was detected and an emergency cesarean section was performed to save the life of the baby.
The lawyer for the plaintiff contended that the 81-minute delay caused the fetus to deteriorate and resulted in cerebral palsy. The jury agreed that if the hospital had provided a trained ultrasound technician and used better equipment, the injury could have been prevented. The jury did not find the doctor responsible, but blamed the hospital for the incident.
Birth injury cases are always emotional and many believe that the significant verdict is entirely justified, given the trauma to the mother and the child. The verdict is intended to provide financial compensation for future medical care of the child, lost earnings, pain and suffering for the baby as well as emotional distress for the single mother.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “Phila. Jury awards $78.5M in medical malpractice case,” Chris Mondics, May 6, 2012