In 2002, ten years after being born with among other things, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and developmental delay, a newborn, through her guardian, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against University of Maryland Medical System’s University of Maryland hospital. The newborn, through her guardian, alleged that hospital was negligent because it made the mother wait before conducting an emergency c-section, which resulted in severe injury to newborn. A jury in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City initially entered a verdict in favor of hospital. On appeal, the Maryland Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case to the Circuit Court. A copy the judicial opinion regarding the case can be found here.
The underlying issue in this medical malpractice case was a factual dispute regarding culpability on the part of the University of Maryland Hospital for the newborn’s injuries. The mother stated that after arriving at the University of Maryland hospital, she waited for approximately five hours, without any treatment, before the c-section was performed. The University of Maryland hospital, on the other hand, denied that it was negligent and stated that the woman did not arrive at the hospital until minutes before the emergency c-section was performed.
The c-section only took three minutes to perform but when the newborn was delivered, she was without a heartbeat, she was having difficulty breathing, and she had low Apgar scores. Apparently, a placental abruption had caused the need for the emergency c-section, and the newborn’s disabilities. The doctors at the University of Maryland hospital inserted a breathing tube and placed the child on a ventilation machine, after which she was admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
The Circuit Court, in ruling on various evidentiary issues, had excluded hospital medical records that corroborated the mother’s version of events. The Court of Appeals ultimately reversed the decision of the Circuit Court and remanded it for further proceedings because it believed the medical records had been improperly excluded.
I have handled many cases where the entire case turns on a just a few medical records. These cases can be won or lost on the medical records, which is why it is important in a medical malpractice case to use an experienced medical malpractice attorney who is very familiar with what should be in medical records and what should not be in medical records.