Earlier this month, a US district court judge in Texas ordered the federal government to pay $6.5 million to a Michigan couple whose baby was born with severe brain damage on a US Army base. According to a story in the Killeen Daily Herald, the baby was delivered by induced birth on September 12, 2008, and it was immediately clear that there was something wrong. He was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which is usually caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain during birth.
The case marks a rare instance of a plaintiff successfully suing a government entity. Since the birth took place in a military hospital, the federal government can be held liable for any medical malpractice that occurred. The judge ruled that the government was negligent in not performing a cesarean section after their excessive use of the drug oxytocin overstimulated the woman’s contractions and caused severe distress in the baby. The settlement will help the couple pay the significant medical costs associated with raising their son, who is now five years old. He cannot walk and must be fed through a feeding tube.
Cerebral Palsy Is Often Caused by Medical Negligence During Childbirth
Once she arrived home from the hospital, the mother immediately began researching brain damage and cerebral palsy. She discovered that the disease is often caused by birth trauma rather than genetics. Cerebral palsy is actually an umbrella term for a large number of disorders affecting a baby’s brain function and body movement. The risk factor for the disease increases significantly when the baby’s brain is damaged by an interruption in oxygen supply during delivery.
The drug oxytocin is often used to induce labor in pregnant women who go past their due date. However, when the dosage is too high, it can cause overstimulated contractions, which in turn can lead to brain damage in the baby. Oxytocin has a history of leading to botched deliveries and eventual civil judgments for medical malpractice. Doctors and other medical providers need to monitor the dosage and contractions closely, and be prepared to perform caesarean sections immediately if the health of the baby appears to be at risk.
Pursuing a Birth Injury Claim
Settlements of this sort usually involve no admission of guilt or liability on the part of the defendant. They also require the judge to sign off on the terms after finding that the settlement was reached in good faith and with the fair understanding of both parties. Under the settlement, the couple will not be able to sue the government again for the same injuries. The $6.5 million will need to be sufficient to meet the child’s needs and expenses going forward.
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy or another illness stemming from a birth injury, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. An attorney can review the facts of your case and determine whether you have a viable claim. If so, they can help you seek the compensation you deserve.