Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine concluded that medical errors are the nation’s third-largest cause of death. However, some medical errors that happen as a baby is coming into the world, rather than resulting in the patient’s death, instead cause a birth injury leading to the patient’s need for lifelong care. Typically, people in Louisiana and elsewhere who file medical malpractice lawsuits do so with the intent to cover the significant expenses involved following a preventable error. In a recent example, the family of a 4-year-old girl was awarded $229.6 million after the hospital at which she was born was found liable for brain damage she suffered during birth.
In Oct. 2014, the child’s mother, only 25 weeks pregnant at the time, was admitted to the labor and delivery department of a hospital in another state. Doctors diagnosed her with dangerously high blood pressure caused by preeclampsia. According to the lawsuit, she was transported to a different hospital where doctors explained that her baby may die or suffer brain damage. The patient apparently did not feel she needed a cesarean section, and she delivered the baby vaginally two days later. At birth, the baby required a breathing tube and chest compressions, as she had no heart rate and wasn’t breathing.
The mother’s legal team has said that the initial prognosis was incorrect. They believe the baby would not have suffered brain damage if a C-section had been performed, and the child will now require lifelong care because of the damage done. According to hospital officials, the mother was well-informed about the risks of her condition and received appropriate care. They have said they plan to appeal the verdict.
All Louisiana parents likely understand the thrill and excitement surrounding the birth of a baby, and most parents bring home a child that is healthy in every way. Sadly, some do not have this type of experience and instead, face years of emotional and financial challenges due to a birth injury that is all the more heart-breaking because it may have been caused by a preventable medical error. Sometimes, as this mother has done, people in this type of situation consult with a medical malpractice attorney for legal advice.