birth injury case settled for 23 million

A Virginia family has reached a settlement with the U.S. government in a medical malpractice case that involved birth injuries sustained at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center. The federal government will pay $2.3 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that inadequate care caused a child to be born with neurological injuries, including cerebral palsy.

According to the court filings, the mother was thirty-five weeks pregnant and suffering severe cramping in her lower abdomen when she checked into Portsmouth Naval Medical Center. She was moved to a triage room and connected to a fetal heart monitor, which indicated fetal distress.

The parents alleged that hospital staff did not inform doctors of the abnormalities indicated by the heart monitor. They further alleged that the mother was left alone for over an hour without intervention of any kind.

The Consequences of Miscommunication and Delay Can Be Devastating

Two-and-a-half hours after the mother was admitted to the hospital, an emergency Caesarian section was finally performed. Unfortunately, the placenta had detached from the uterine wall, which resulted in a loss of oxygen to the fetus. The baby was born with respiratory failure and a slow heart rate. Her appearance was pale and limp. The baby was intubated and later transferred to a children’s hospital.

The lawsuit claimed that the child will experience severe developmental delays and that damage from the birth injuries, including cerebral palsy, will be lifelong.

Trial was scheduled for December, but the parties had been actively negotiating for several months. The final settlement was approved by U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar and states that $54,000 is allocated for medical bills and $675,000 for legal fees and expenses. The remaining $1.57 million will fund a trust to pay for the child’s future medical care.

The federal government denied any malpractice and admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement.

Source: Virginian-Pilot “U.S. to pay $2.3 million to settle malpractice case” 1/12/2011

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