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$73K in sanctions stemming from birth injury lawsuit upheld

There are of course many different injuries that if sustained by a patient, can lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. Perhaps the most tragic of those is an injury to a baby that occurs as it is being born. Known as a birth injury, they are particularly sad since the victim is so young and has not had a chance to know a normal life.

An Erie couple filed one such medical malpractice lawsuit in 2004 after their daughter sustained a permanent arm injury due to shoulder dystocia. They sued both Lake Erie Women's Center, the facility where she was born, as well as the midwife that delivered her, asserting negligence in the delivery. The case ended in mistrials twice.

Later, the attorneys for the plaintiff filed another lawsuit against the heath care provider for a different reason. It was during that lawsuit that Lake Erie Women's Center produced information requested in the previous lawsuit regarding policy or protocol regarding shoulder dystocia. In the first lawsuit it was denied that such policy existed.

The attorneys for the plaintiffs in the previous case sought sanctions against Lake Erie Women's Center. Despite the center's argument that at the time of the birth injury that was the subject of the first case, the protocol had not yet been adopted after the center merged with a Contemporary Women's Healthcare, the judge assigned to the case ordered $72,861.53 in sanctions.

The Erie County judge's ruling was recently upheld by the state Superior Court. The nearly $73,000, is to be paid by a Lake Erie Women's Center physician shareholder, the midwife who delivered the baby, as well as Lake Erie Women's Center and UPMC Hamot (the name the facility was known prior to its merger with Lake Erie Women's Center.)

Source: Erie Times-News, "Sanctions against Erie medical pros upheld," Lisa Thompson, April 29, 2012

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