Posted On: April 9, 2012 by Andrew G. Slutkin

Birth Trauma Verdict Upheld Against The University of Maryland Medical Center

Maryland Appellate Courts Weighs In On Medical Malpractice Suit Against University of Maryland Medical System Corporation (UMMS)

The Court of Special Appeals recently published an opinion concerning a medical malpractice complaint brought against University of Maryland Medical System Corporation. A copy of the Court of Special Appeals opinion can be found here.

The medical malpractice suit was brought by a minor, through his mother, and alleged that the care the child received following his premature birth was negligent. On the morning of the child’s birth, tests revealed that there was significant potential for a dangerous condition called “cord prolapse,” a condition in where the umbilical cord is squeezed by contractions thereby cutting off blood flow to the fetus. The child was delivered by emergency Cesarean section shortly after these tests and remained in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for two months after his birth as a result of numerous medical complications.

In the medical malpractice case, the child’s mother alleged that as a result of the negligent care the boy received he is physically and developmentally delayed. The hospital contended that the child’s injuries were the result of his premature birth, not inadequate care by their staff. The medical malpractice suit, tried in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, resulted in a jury verdict in favor of the child for $4.1 Million Dollars (ultimately reduced by agreement to $3,605,000.00 Dollars because of Maryland’s cap on non-economic damages).

The plaintiff alleged in the case that the University of Maryland Medical System breached the standard of care, causing injury and resulting in damages. The allegations centered on two incidents: the hospital’s failure to deliver the child as soon as it noted cord prolapse and the hospital’s failure to diagnose a cervical infection in the mother that should have led to immediate delivery. The hospital, on appeal, argued that the evidence produced by the child at trial was legally insufficient to support a reasonable finding, by a preponderance of the evidence (the legal standard for proof for negligence), that any breach in the standard of care by its doctors or nurses was the cause of the child’s injuries. Specifically, one expert witness for the child testified as to the cause of the injuries, finding to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the child suffered a “hypoxic [lack of oxygen] brain injury” due to the effects of the untreated cord prolapse and the delay in delivery, and his injuries were not the result of his premature birth.

The Court of Special Appeals, in affirming the jury’s decision, found that whether the child’s deficits were caused by negligence was a question for the jury, to be made by weighing the testimony of the expert witnesses. The appellate court determined that the jury’s verdict clearly set forth their decision---they believed the child’s expert.

As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I have handled a number of medical malpractice cases involving birth injuries and hospital errors. Filing a medical malpractice claim means proving the that a duty of care was owed by the hospital to the patient, that the standard of care was breached, that the breach was the proximate cause of an injury, and that damages resulted. These cases are extremely complicated and require expertise that most general personal injury attorneys do not have. To see some of the cases I have handled, click here.

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