A Cook County, Illinois jury has awarded more than $50 million in damages to the family of a nine-year-old boy who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after doctors failed to notice manifest signs of fetal distress during his birth, Patch.com reports.
Illinois Family Secures $50.3 Million In Birth Injury Lawsuit
During trial, the family rejected a $10 million settlement offer from the hospital.
In a decision delivered on Tuesday, October 16, 2018, the jury decided that a doctor and nurse at Evanston NorthShore Hospital had been negligent and committed errors during the birth. The parents originally filed their case in 2014, accusing the NorthShore University HealthSystem, Evanston Hospital, three doctors and a nurse of medical malpractice.
The trial lasted 11 days. The hospital says it plans to appeal the verdict.
“This Injury Should Never Have Happened”
“This injury should never have happened,” one of the family’s attorneys said in a press release. The child’s “doctor and nurses did not recognize the ominous signs of fetal distress and his brain injury occurred right before their eyes.”
The jurors ruled against Dr. Armin Deschler and nurse Lisa Wegrzyn, along with the hospital, for failing to save the child from suffering brain damage. At trial, the jury heard that hospital staff waited several hours before performing an emergency cesarean section, even as the baby’s heart rate continued to drop to dangerous levels.
Pitocin Increased Stress On Baby, Attorneys Say
The situation was worsened, attorneys say, when the doctors chose to administer Pitocin, a drug that increases contractions. The lawsuit claimed that this medication cut off the baby’s oxygen supply further.
Child Suffered Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy
The child was born “blue and lifeless,” according to Patch.com. He was unable to breath without outside assistance. Doctors were able to resuscitate the boy, but attorneys say that he suffered a “severe and permanent brain injury,” known as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, “due to the lack of oxygen to his vital organs.”
He has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, along with hearing loss, impaired motor skills and a limited vocabulary. His parents say they chose to file their lawsuit after realizing that he would require specialized medical treatments for the rest of his life.
The labor lasted 12 hours. Attorneys believe that a prompt cesarean section could have avoided the child’s brain injuries.
Illinois’ 2nd-Largest Birth Injury Verdict
Of the $50.3 million judgment, $12 million are intended to compensate the family for future medical expenses, while $8.5 million is for past and future emotional distress. An additional $3 million has been assessed for the child’s future lost income; $1.3 million is for pain and suffering in the future; and $20 million is for the loss of a “normal life.”
The verdict is believed to be the second-highest awarded for a birth injury in Illinois’ history. It is the third-highest award granted in a medical malpractice case.