Medical malpractice cases are frequently settled outside of court. However, a jury recently rendered a $2.5 million Plaintiff's verdict after trial. The Charlotte Observer reported on the case, in which a baby was born dead because of the hospital staff's failure to provide appropriate care.
Medical care providers are expected to provide a professional level of care, which includes properly diagnosing medical emergencies during pregnancy, and during the labor and delivery process. Birth injuries are some of the most common types of medical malpractice claims, and these cases can be especially tragic if a brand new life is cut short or permanently damaged because of inappropriate choices by care providers.
This recent verdict for the stillborn baby's family arose out of a problem the mother began to experience when she was nearing the end of a high risk pregnancy. She was 35 weeks pregnant and experienced repeated, agonizing pain in her right side. She had been coughing due to bronchitis, but the pain was far worse than the pain caused by coughing.
She went to the hospital at 10:00 p.m. on a Sunday because of her pain. Hospital staff was not sure if she should be seen in the E.R. first, or should go to labor and delivery first due to her pregnancy. She ultimately was sent to the E.R., where lab tests and a sonogram were ordered.
The doctor diagnosed bleeding (a "hematoma") in her abdomen, as well as gall stones. While the diagnosis was correct, the mother was discharged with a prescription for pain pills instead of being monitored with additional sonograms to better estimate the size of the hematoma.
The mother went home, and to bed to rest after the hospital visit. Her stepdaughter found her the next morning, almost unresponsive. She had lost 50 percent of her blood volume as the hematoma grew. The baby had no blood flow or oxygen and died in utero. Her doctors induced labor to deliver her dead child, which lasted for eight hours.
The grieving mother filed suit against the doctor and the emergency service who staffed the hospital where she was seen and sent home. The jury agreed the doctors had been negligent, finding the physicians liable after this civil trial, and reached a verdict of $2.5 million in compensation for the family's loss.