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After two weeks of testimony, a medical malpractice jury in Arkansas awarded $46.5 million to a toddler whose family alleged that her doctors’ negligence resulted in catastrophic and irreversible brain damage.  The family alleged that the doctors failed to properly manage and treat the newborn baby’s jaundice following birth which led to the development of kernicterus in the child’s brain.  Kernicterus is a rare brain damage that occurs in a newborn experiencing severe jaundice.  It can be prevented by treating jaundice early.

Jaundice is a yellow discoloration in a newborn baby’s skin and eyes.  The condition results from an excess amount of bilirubin, a yellow-colored pigment of red blood cells, in the blood.  A high bilirubin level associated with severe infant jaundice or inadequately treated jaundice can result in brain damage, as it did in this case.  According to the family’s medical malpractice lawyers, the infant’s initial blood test demonstrated elevated levels of bilirubin, but no follow up blood testing was done and no phototherapy lights to treat the jaundice were administered.  The reason, the lawyers say, is because the child’s bilirubin levels, which were tested at 2 hours after birth, were compared against those which are normal for a two-day old child.  Death or brain damage caused by the failure to treat high levels of bilirubin in newborns is considered a “never event” in the healthcare industry, meaning it should never happen because it is identifiable, preventable and serious.

As a result of the brain damage suffered by the child, she is “locked into a body that won’t work” as she will not be able to walk, talk, feed herself, or care for herself independently, though she has normal cognitive function.

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A Missouri jury awarded close to $29 million this week to a then-college athlete whose rare genetic disorder went undiagnosed beginning in 2012, leaving her with devastating injuries.  The woman, who now is 24 years old, alleged that she went to her doctor in 2012 with complaints of fatigue, tremors, gait issues, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, crying spells and panic attacks.  Her doctor diagnosed her with anxiety and declined to prescribe any diagnostic testing.  Eight months later, after her symptoms worsened, the woman and her mother implored the doctor for more testing.  An MRI of her brain demonstrated that the woman was suffering from Wilson’s disease.

Wilson’s disease is a rare, hereditary disorder that causes excess amounts of copper to accumulate in the liver, brain and other vital organs.  Copper in the body contributes to, among other things, development of healthy nerves and bones.  Normally, it is absorbed from the food that you eat and any excess is excreted through the bile that is produced in the liver.  However, people with Wilson’s disease do not excrete the copper properly, causing it to accumulate in the body.  If it is diagnosed early, the disease usually can be managed well, resulting in a largely normal life.

As a result of the delay in the diagnoses in this particular case, the woman suffered catastrophic and permanent brain damage and now gets her nutrition through a feeding tube.  The jury’s award included 21 million for future medical expenses and other care costs, $3.2 million for future economic damages such as lost wages, and $3.2 million for future non-economic damages for her pain, suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress.

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After a 54 year-old woman had to have amputations of both of her legs above the knees, her left arm below the elbow, and fingers from her right hand, she sued the healthcare providers in South Carolina whom she believed to be responsible.  The lawsuit alleged that the doctors failed to recognize that the woman was delving deep into deep septic shock.

When she arrived in the emergency department, she was not seen by a physician for five hours, despite the fact that she had a rapid respiratory rate of 28, a heart rate of 155 a low oxygen level of 89 percent and a fever of 103.1 degrees Fahrenheit.  She also was not given her first dose of antibiotics until some fourteen hours after admission, despite orders that such antibiotics be administered hours earlier.  She arrested in the emergency room and was successfully resuscitated.  From that point, her extremities started mottling and she began showing additional signs of ischemia (inadequate blood flow).  Thereafter she was transferred to another hospital where she underwent a triple amputation to save her life.

The jury’s award included $10 million for economic damages such as last wages and earning capacity and past and future medical and other care expenses that she will require for the remainder of her life.  The remainder of the award was for the woman’s non-economic damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress.  The defendants’ overarching position at trial was that the woman was admitted with two life-threatening conditions and that the care provided to her in fact saved her life.  Our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers have decades of experience litigating emergency room malpractice cases.  If you or a loved one were the victim of a similar, or any type of medical mistake, call us today for a free consultation at 410-385-2225.

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After eight days of testimony and fifteen hours of deliberations, an Atlanta jury this week awarded $45.8 million to a woman who suffered catastrophic and irreversible brain damage just days after giving birth.  Three days after her child’s birth, the woman suffered a heart attack while undergoing x-rays.  Although she was able to be resuscitated, she was without oxygen for approximately ten minutes and suffered an anoxic brain injury that has rendered her unable to care for herself in any meaningful way.

In the medical malpractice lawsuit, the woman’s lawyers claimed that the heart attack was caused by the healthcare providers’ failure to properly monitor her blood pressure in light of preeclampsia, combined with pulmonary edema, also knowns as fluid in the lungs.  The defense took the position at trial that the woman’s decline was more likely explained by pulmonary embolism – a blood clot that breaks off from one area of the body and travels to the lung – than pulmonary edema, and that what happened to the woman could not have been foreseen by the doctors who were charged with caring for her.  The Plaintiffs countered that the doctors failed to properly address the woman’s erratic blood pressure and allowed a dangerous buildup of fluid in her lungs that caused her heart to stop beating.

The jury’s award included $9.8 million in economic damages for the woman’s future medical care needs and $18 million each to the woman and her husband for their pain, suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress.

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A jury in a medical malpractice case tried in federal court has awarded $14.5 million to a young boy who suffered catastrophic injuries, including cerebral palsy, during birth.  The lawsuit alleged that the healthcare providers involved negligently guided the mother through labor, prescribing a drug – Pitocin – that sped up the delivery process to a rate at which the child did not have sufficient time to recover and oxygenate between contractions.  The Plaintiffs’ position was that when the fetal heart monitor began to demonstrate that the child was being deprived of oxygen the administration of Pitocin should have been terminated.  The evidence also demonstrated that the hospital’s written rules prohibited use of Pitocin in cases where the mother is dilating, making progress in the labor process and experiencing strong contractions.

As a result of his injuries, the child is unable to walk or talk and cannot sit up without assistance.  He likely will require significant, round-the-clock care for the remainder of his life.  The award – issued after two weeks of trial and four hours of deliberation – included $3 million for past a future pain, suffering and future lost wages.  The remainder of the award was to cover future medical expenses for his lifetime of needed care.

If you or a loved one may have been the victim of a medical mistake, call our experienced Maryland medical malpractice lawyers at 410-385-2225.

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After a five-day trial last week, a jury in Montgomery County, Maryland awarded $1 million a man who permanently lost vision in one eye following surgery.  The man went to a local eye clinic in December of 2014 with pre-existing conditions that left him at a higher risk of developing increased ocular pressure.  However, he was not prescribed any eye pressure medication.  The clinic physician diagnosed him with a detached retina and scheduled him for surgery to repair it.

The man’s medical malpractice lawyers contended that the surgery caused the pressure in the left eye to increase over the next day, leading to permanent vision loss.  He contended that he is not able to do all of the activities that he was accustomed to doing and that his enjoyment of life’s daily pursuits has been diminished.  The award included $500,000 for pain, suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress.  After the Maryland economic damages cap in medical malpractice cases is applied, the award will be reduced to $740,000.

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Last year, an Alabama jury awarded $10 million to the family of a young boy who suffered devastating injuries after his bacterial meningitis went undetected for too long.  Meningitis is an infection of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.  When caused by bacteria, the condition is referred to as bacterial meningitis.

In this case, the family of the then-three-month-old was brought to the hospital on two consecutive days with a variety of symptoms and, while he was admitted, no tests to rule out bacterial infection were performed and no antibiotics were administered.  Despite his ongoing symptoms of a bacterial infection, the hospital discharged him to the care of his parents at home.  The next morning, the family took the boy to his pediatrician who performed a lumbar puncture and confirmed that he was suffering from bacterial meningitis.  He was flown by helicopter to another hospital where he was treated and underwent several surgeries.  Despite those efforts, he suffered permanent brain injuries, hearing loss and now suffers from seizures.

In newborns, the classic signs of meningitis such as fever, headache and neck stiffness may be difficult to notice.  Infants suffering from the condition may be slow or inactive, irritable, feeding poorly or vomiting.  Because the condition can be so difficult to detect in newborns, the defendants in these types of cases usually argue, among other things, that it was not below the standard of acceptable medical care to not diagnose the condition as quickly as one might expect it to be diagnosed in an adult.

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A New Hampshire jury this month awarded $5 million to a woman after several procedures by her ophthalmologist left her legally blind.  The woman had been a patient of this physician for a period of eight years.  She was being treated for age-related macular degeneration, a condition that usually responds well to treatment, though it can reduce the quality of a person’s vision.

Following steroid injections, the patient lost much of her vision in her left eye.  Then, after she lost vision in her right eye, the right eye had to be surgically removed because it had shrunken significantly as the result of the treatments that had failed.  A glass eye was inserted in its place.  The lawsuit alleged that the physician injected the right eye with a steroid that was too aggressive and rapidly led to glaucoma, pain and ultimately blindness and the removal of the eye.  Because this patient also had a history of glaucoma, the use of a steroid for early, age-related macular degeneration was alleged to be in violation of acceptable medical care.  The complaint also alleged that this particular physician did not have the appropriate training to be performing these procedures.

The jury’s verdict included an award of nearly $4.7 million to the woman for her pain, suffering, mental anguish and future medical needs, and $350,000 to her husband for loss of companionship.

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Late last month, a Georgia jury awarded $30.5 million to the family of a child who suffered a catastrophic brain injury while being delivered.  The child’s mother presented to her OB-GYN for a regularly-scheduled visit at 35 weeks, where a non-stress test was performed and found to be non-reactive.  A few days after that scheduled visit, the mother returned for an unscheduled visit with a chief complaint of reduced or absent fetal movement.  A second non-stress test was again non-reactive and an ultrasound demonstrated possibility of reversal end diastolic blood flow, a severe condition that results from an increase in resistance to blood flow within the placenta.

The family’s attorneys contended that under the standard of acceptable medical care, this finding required an immediate delivery of the baby.  Instead, the physician who was treating the mother sent her to the hospital for continued monitoring and for a consultation with a maternal fetal medicine doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancies.  Due to a miscommunication, however, the consult with the specialist did not occur for an additional three hours.  The baby was ultimately delivered by emergency cesarean section due to terminal bradycardia (significantly decreased heart rate).  She suffered a severe hypoxic ischemic brain jury which resulted in development of spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, developmental delays and a seizure disorder.  The attorneys for the family contended that there were several opportunities to deliver the distressed baby but those opportunities were missed by the treating physicians.

At Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin and White, our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers have decades of experience successfully litigating birth injury cases.  If you or a loved one suffered this, or any other type of medical mistake, call us today for a free consultation at 410-385-2225.

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Last year, a judge in an Ohio medical malpractice case awarded $24.9 million to a child born with cerebral palsy and to his parents.  According to the lawsuit, the boy, born in 2010, suffered a deprivation of oxygen during his birth.  The family alleged that the signs and symptoms of fetal distress were not recognized or acted upon in a timely fashion, despite the use of a fetal heart monitor.  The lack of oxygen resulted in a severe and irreversible brain injury that caused developmental delays and inability to function as a normal child.

The evidence demonstrated that the boy will require assistance with personal care for bathing, dressing, positioning, hair and mouth care throughout his life and that it is likely that he will require round-the-clock care due to his communication and functional mobility impairments.  The award – made by a judge because it was a bench trial – included $24.9 million for future care, $2.9 million for lost earning capacity, and $500,000 to each of the boy’s parents for their emotional pain and suffering.

The Maryland medical malpractice lawyers at Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White have decades of successful experience litigating birth injury cases.  If you or a loved one have suffered this, or any other type of injury that may have been caused by a medical mistake, calls us today for a free consultation at 410-385-2225.

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