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Pennsylvania jury awards $78.5M for birth injuries

Last week we wrote a post about an Erie couple who filed a medical malpractice lawsuit after their child sustained a permanent arm injury because of shoulder dystocia allegedly due to steps that were taken during the course of the delivery of the baby. Since then, a jury verdict was reached in another birth injury case, in the state of Pennsylvania, stemming from a 2008 delivery.

According to the attorney for the child's mother, the now 3-year-old child, has cerebral palsy due to a deprivation of oxygen it experienced while it was in her womb. After the mother arrived at Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, an ultrasound reportedly initially indicated that the child had died in utero. When a second ultrasound found the baby's a heartbeat, the baby was delivered via cesarean section.

The woman later sued alleging several things including first that the condition of the fetus deteriorated as a result of the 81-minute delay between the first ultrasound and the baby's delivery, which caused the cerebral palsy. She also asserted that the delay could have been avoided had a trained ultrasound technician been employed by the hospital and the ultrasound equipment been newer.

Last week the jury rendered a verdict in the case. Though it did not find the doctor to be at fault, the hospital was deemed to be responsible for the failure to diagnose. The jury awarded $78.5 million to the mother. That amount covers:

  •           future medical care of the child
  •           lost earnings
  •           pain and suffering for the baby
  •           emotional distress for the mother

As is the case in most birth injuries, there is nothing that can be done to give the child a normal life. The money the child's mother received will hopefully make it easier for her to provide the necessary care.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, "Phila. jury awards $78.5M in medical malpractice case," Chris Mondics, May 6, 2012

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