verdict in cerebral palsy case 58 million in damages

The family of a baby born with cerebral palsy recently won a medical malpractice claim against the doctor that delivered the baby, and the doctor’s medical practice.

The family sued for damages in order to pay for their son’s lifelong medical care. The claim in their medical malpractice suit was that the doctor delayed performing a Caesarean section (C-section), and that the delay caused permanent brain damage to the baby. The boy, now eight years old, has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He is not able to walk or talk.

Experts for the family testified at trial that when the mother’s amniotic fluid had dropped by half, the doctor should have performed a C-section. Instead, the mother was discharged and sent home. An additional claim was that when the doctor did eventually perform a C-section, he made incisions in the wrong parts of the mother’s body.

The baby was not breathing nor moving when he was born. His skin had an unhealthy color. He did, however, have a faint heartbeat.

The defense said that the baby had a rare inflammatory complication that could not be detected before birth, and that therefore the doctor’s actions in the case were appropriate.

The jury disagreed, and decided that the family should receive $58 million in damages.

Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys observing the outcome of the case see it as an example of how juries are taking into account the lifetime expense that families face when medical malpractice leads to brain injury and cerebral palsy in a child.

“This is for our little boy,” said the father. “Now we can move forward and worry about taking care of him like we always have.”

Source: The Republic “Attorneys say jury awards $58 million in medical malpractice involving pregnancy” 5/25/2011

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