Last month, a Pennsylvania jury awarded $32 million to a baby girl and her family, after a hospital’s negligence led to the baby being diagnosed with cerebral palsy. According to an article from Mainline Media News, the jury found that two nurses who attended to the baby’s mother during delivery were negligent in not notifying a doctor when the baby’s heart rate dropped dramatically. This failure led to brain damage that caused spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy.
The baby’s drop in heart rate was apparently caused by a problem with the umbilical cord, and it prevented sufficient oxygen from entering her brain. However, when the two nurses noticed the heart rate decrease, they waited 12 or 13 minutes before notifying a doctor. When a doctor finally entered the mother’s room and noticed the problem, she immediately began preparing to perform a C-section delivery. However, it took several more minutes for the hospital staff to locate a supervising doctor and anesthesiologist, both of whom were needed to perform the C-section. All in all, the baby was not delivered until more than half an hour after her heart rate first dropped.
Negligence Led to Permanent Brain Damage in Baby
According to expert witnesses called by the plaintiffs, if hospital staff had delivered the baby 15-17 minutes earlier than her actual time of birth, they would have been able to minimize or even prevent the brain damage altogether. The oxygen deprivation over an extended period of time led to permanent damage, which ultimately caused the cerebral palsy. The jury found that the hospital (as the nurses’ employer) owed a duty of care to the mother and baby, and breached that duty by not delivering the baby by C-section in a timely manner. These sorts of birth injuries are unfortunately much more common than they need to be, and sometimes it takes a case like this one to send a message that medical negligence of this kind is not acceptable.
Cerebral palsy adversely affects a child’s nervous system, making movement very difficult. As many as four out of every 1,000 babies born worldwide are diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Those afflicted with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy generally display stiff, jerky movements stemming from hypertonia of the muscles. The baby girl in this case suffers frequent spasms in her arms, legs, and neck, and struggles to walk and talk. She will need near-constant medical attention for the rest of her life. Sometimes, 15 minutes can make all the difference. Hopefully, the $32 million will provide some measure of relief to the baby and her family.
What to Do if Your Child Has Been Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and you believe this may be the result of a birth injury and medical negligence, 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.