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$55 million verdict in Baltimore medical malpractice suit

A child's cerebral palsy was blamed on doctors in a medical malpractice lawsuit filed against Johns Hopkins after a 2010 birth resulted in a delayed C-section, which deprived the unborn child of oxygen. Apparently a Baltimore, Maryland, jury agreed and awarded the family an unprecedented $55 million in damages. Initially, the mother attempted to give birth at home with the services of a midwife, however when the child became caught during delivery, she was rushed to the hospital for an emergency C-section.

The mother was left waiting for blood tests and she said, after waiting for what seemed like a very long time, she began yelling at the hospital staff asking where the blood tests were. She waited for two hours before doctors performed the C-section. The family sued Johns Hopkins for the delay and resulting birth injuries to their child. Their medical malpractice attorney engaged a medical expert who determined that the delay in the C-section delivery deprived the child of oxygen which led to his cerebral palsy.

The now 2-year-old child cannot walk, sit up on his own or talk. The expert testimony in the case stated that doctors should have performed the C-section within 30 to 40 minutes after the woman arrived at the hospital. The jury apparently agreed that the doctors' delay was malpractice and thus the cause of the child's injuries. The family is hoping to use the damage award money to find treatments for their child in hopes he will someday be able to do more than just smile.

The family also hopes that the jury's verdict sends a clear message to the hospital to respond more appropriately in medical emergencies such as this. The hospital said in a statement that although it sympathizes with the family, it was "stunned" by the jury's verdict for the plaintiff and it vigorously denies the allegations of medical malpractice in this case. The hospital said it believes the medical care provided to the mother was "entirely appropriate."

Attorneys for the hospital reportedly said they plan to appeal the verdict. Due to caps on medical malpractice claims, the family will only receive $30 million of the $55 million award. When you consider the long-term costs involved in caring for a child with cerebral palsy for the rest of his or her life, along with the quality of life the child and family have been deprived of, any amount of money is not sufficient.

Source: CBS Baltimore, "Family Awarded Record $55M Settlement In Malpractice Suit Against Hopkins," June 26, 2012

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