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Medical malpractice case results in $30 million settlement

Some serious injuries to children that are caused by medical negligence may occur after birth and over an extended time period. That is apparently the case in a medical malpractice claim recently settled on the eve of trial for $30 million. The family of a 6-year-old boy sued a treating physician who performed 25 separate surgical procedures on the boy after his birth in 2009 up until sometime in 2011. The case is out of state, but Louisiana laws on medical negligence are generally applicable to a case with these facts.

That last surgical procedure performed by the doctor involved using a suturing device to try to plug a hole in the boy's esophagus. According to expert reports, the use of the instrument was inappropriate. It punctured the boy's pulmonary artery, leaving him with an irreversible brain injury and cerebral palsy. The complaint alleges that some of the 25 procedures were experimental and caused damage to the victim.

The defendant doctor was a university professor in a medical teaching hospital when the events occurred. The child was born in 2009 with a leak in his esophagus and other conditions that were not life-threatening. A surgery to repair the leak had been performed on the boy the day after his birth. The lawsuit claimed that the defendant was negligent in performing a second procedure to fix the leak less than a month later

The defendant operated on the boy 24 more times over a 17-month period but did not correct the leak, while he did, however, cause severe brain damage and cerebral palsy, according to expert reports. It is alleged that the doctor exposed the boy to risky and novel operations that were medically irresponsible. The hospital where the procedures took place contributed to the medical malpractice settlement, on the basis of allegations that the hospital showed a stunning lack of supervision over its surgeon. These egregious facts would likely result in a finding of liability under the negligence laws of Louisiana, as well as the laws of all other states. 

Source: Chicago Tribune, "$30M malpractice settlement against doctor who worked at Chicago hospitals", Ameet Sachdev, Feb. 22, 2016

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