A jury recently awarded mourning parents 78 million dollars, the single largest damage award even handed down in the state of Pennsylvania. These parents lost their little girl to spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy when she was only three years old. The cerebral palsy was the direct result of medical malpractice on behalf of the family’s obstetrician. Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys are particularly experienced in dealing with wrongful death cases of this nature and they are pleased to see a family receive such a fitting jury award.
One of the most common conditions resulting from medical malpractice and negligence at birth is cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a very serious condition that directly affects an individual’s motor abilities. Individuals suffering from cerebral palsy can have partial or complete paralysis, restricted mobility, shakes and tremors, and various physical disabilities. Unfortunately, modern medicine is unable to cure this condition. Often times, modern medicine cannot even save individuals suffering from cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy can be caused by an insufficient amount of oxygen being
received at birth. The most common instance of medical malpractice causing
cerebral palsy is a failure to correctly treat a prolapsed umbilical cord,
which is also known as hypoxia. A prolapsed umbilical cord occurs when
the cord exits the uterus before the fetus does. This can result in the
umbilical cord actually strangling the baby as it emerges from the womb.
This lack of oxygen can cause cerebral palsy.
In this particular case, the baby girl’s cerebral palsy was caused by a prolapsed umbilical cord that was improperly dealt with. The court decided this constituted medical malpractice because the obstetricians failed to follow hospital protocol, which was to continuously monitor fetuses in dangerous situations. Furthermore, during the pregnancy the hospital apparently erred by claiming the fetus had died when no heartbeat was discovered during an ultrasound, despite the mother claiming she could feel the baby kick. Lastly, this horrific medical malpractice here was also the result of antiquated equipment that had not been used by an obstetrician in that hospital in nearly a decade.
Unfortunately for the victims, their daughter was born with possibly the worst type of cerebral palsy. While the child survived birth and lived for three years before perishing, her short life was a difficult one. The girl’s cerebral palsy caused her to be a spastic quadriplegic, meaning she was unable to move or function in any manner without medical assistance.
After she died, the parents quickly filed suit for medical malpractice against both the obstetrician and the hospital. After a long trial, the jury rendered an earth shattering verdict in favor of the claimants for 78 million dollars. Obviously, given the fact that this little girl only survived to the age of three, a majority of this award was punitive, although the cost for medical care of a person with cerebral palsy can be very expensive.
The size of this damage award fuels fire to the ongoing debate that the current medical malpractice system gives awards that are far too large. Such a grandiose damage award is sure to raise the question of what is too much. While that question is fair, it is easy to forget that in this case doctors are paying for a mistake that permanently cost this family the ability to live happily and raise their child. As the legal system stands right now, juries have the freedom to evaluate and award large sums of money when they participate in civil litigation. Unless the citizens of a state or the country as a whole wishes to change this system, large damage awards should continue to be available.
The sad truth is, many children are struck with cerebral palsy because of medical malpractice and negligence. If your child or family member has cerebral palsy, you should contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately.