A Florida-based healthcare staffing agency has settled a medical malpractice lawsuit involving the birth injuries sustained by a newborn in 2013. Cross Country Healthcare Inc. from Boca Raton entered a confidential settlement agreement with the family of Aiden Boulter, the baby who was born with severe brain injuries due to oxygen deprivation in the womb.
Ohio Family Awarded $30.6 Million In Birth Injury Verdict
In their birth injury lawsuit, the Boulter family accused a nurse provided by Cross Country Healthcare Inc. of negligence. At trial, the family’s attorney argued that the nurse, who was tasked with monitoring the unborn child’s heart rate, chose to use a hand-held device, rather than the continuous fetal heart-rate monitor required under the circumstances. In fact, the attorney told jurors that the nurse was actually measuring the mother’s heart rate, rather than the heart rate of her unborn child. The alleged blunder, attorneys argued, led directly to the child’s severe injuries.
Aiden Boulter was not breathing when he was born and had almost no heartbeat. He suffered severe and permanent brain injuries after the umbilical cord became wrapped around his neck inside the birth canal. The injuries “came as a shock to the medical team,” according to the Boston Globe, because nursing staff had failed to use a continuous fetal heart-rate monitor. Now 6 years old, Aiden is unable to walk, speak or eat on his own.
In court filings, Cross Country Healthcare characterized the injuries as the result of “a rare and unfortunate outcome,” writing, “the nurse, with more than 30 years of labor and delivery experience, was one member of a care team supporting the midwife and attending obstetrician at one of the nation’s preeminent hospitals.”
Healthcare Staffing Agency Settles Case To Avoid Jury Award
In settling the case, Cross Country Healthcare avoided the risk of massive financial exposure. The settlement was reached immediately before a Massachusetts jury ruled decisively in the case, ordering Cross Country to pay the Boulter family a total of $30.6 million in damages. In light of the confidential settlement, the company will not be required to pay the full jury award, but the family’s attorney, Benjamin Zimmerman, says they still stand to receive a “significant” sum because the settlement is tied to the size of the jury award. In discussing the settlement, Cross Country Healthcare says it expects to pay about $1 million of the settlement, with the remaining compensation covered by insurers.
Additional portions of the family’s lawsuit were settled last year, including claims of negligence against the obstetrician, midwife and Mass General Hospital, the hospital where the delivery took place. In a statement released on Thursday, Massachusetts General Hospital said it “extends heartfelt sympathies to the Boulter family for the complications their son experienced during a difficult delivery in January 2013. Mass General is dedicated to providing the highest-quality team-based care to families every day according to well-established policies and practices. In this case, the jury agreed with the plaintiff’s position that that high standard was not met.”
Mother Hopes To Save Other Children From Similar Fate
Aiden’s mother, Kim Boulter, says she and her husband were “completely overwhelmed with joy” when the verdict was announced. Both parents testified during the two-week trial. Boulter said her family had pursued the birth injury case for six years because they hope to pressure hospitals into formulating safe and clear guidelines for the monitoring of fetal vital signs to prevent similar birth injuries in the future.
“We feel it never should have happened, and it was a senseless loss of the life he would have had,” Boulter said in a phone interview with the Boston Globe. “We had so many dreams for him and his life and, within a couple of hours, that all disappeared. And now his life is much, much more difficult, full of medical appointments, surgeries, just ongoing.”
Cross Country Healthcare Inc., which has an office in Braintree Massachusetts, provides medical personnel to under-staffed hospitals nationwide. In settlement documents, the company said it has “maintained a proven track record for 33 years of delivering high quality, flexible healthcare staffing solutions with qualified professionals dedicated to exceptional patient care.”