A jury has awarded $20.5 million in a medical malpractice suit to the family of a child with lasting medical problems caused by mistakes made at his birth. The judge stated that it was the largest award in a medical malpractice case in his 10 years on the bench. The jury found the doctor and hospital negligent in their treatment of the child’s mother during the delivery.
A fetal monitoring system indicated that the baby was in distress so the hospital called the doctor but he did not show up for two hours. During this delay, the baby was deprived of oxygen. After the doctor arrived, rather than performing an emergency c-section, he decided to induce labor, which forced the baby to remain oxygen-deprived. When it finally became clear to the doctor that the baby had to be removed, it was too late. The delayed c-section was finally performed nearly four hours after the mother had arrived at the hospital, after the baby had already suffered permanent brain damage. The baby was born with cerebral palsy. He is almost completely blind, has no use of his hands, has severe mental retardation. The boy is now 7 but, because of his birth injury, he functions at the level of a 6 to 9-month old.
The family will receive $2 million health care expenses and related costs. The child was awarded $18.5 million, which he will receive upon turning 18, for lost earning capacity, pain and suffering and medical expenses. Almost all of the money will be used for his care, since he will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life.