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Labor error leads to cerebral palsy, $33 million award

Most New York women give birth to healthy babies. However, mistakes sometimes occur during the labor and delivery process that cause harm to the baby or mother. A labor error caused a girl to be born with cerebral palsy. Her parents filed a medical malpractice lawsuit and they recently were awarded $32.8 million by a jury.

The girl's mother went into labor in a Pennsylvania hospital on Nov. 13, 2009. The baby's heartbeat suddenly dropped dramatically, from 150 to 60 beats per minute. It is believed that this was caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. Two nurses attending to the mother noticed this decrease, but did nothing. It was not detected by the mother's doctor until 13 minutes later. The nurses were asked to find an anesthesiologist so an emergency C-section could be performed. The anesthesiologist was not found until 16 minutes later. The girl was born 13 minutes after that.

The girl, now four years old, suffers from cerebral palsy. She has frequent spasms that prevent her from walking, talking and holding her head up. Expert witnesses told the judge and jury that if the girl had been delivered 15 minutes earlier, she might not have suffered any brain damage at all.

Although the award may seem like a huge amount of money, most - if not all - will go toward medical expenses as the girl gets older. Cerebral palsy is a permanent disability that requires lifelong care. Even with health insurance, these medical bills will quickly add up. The negligent nurses' inaction fell below an acceptable standard of care and this caused severe damage to the girl. The parents now have the compensation they need to provide for her care.

Source: Delco Times, "Jury gives $32.M to girl in Chesco medical malpractice case," Michael P. Rellahan, Jan. 22, 2013

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