Unfortunately, severe birth injuries and infant deaths caused by medical malpractice are more common than some people think. The Florida Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics reports that between 7 and 8 of every 1,000 births in Florida results in fetal death. In the U.S., 27 out of every 1,000 births results in a birth injury. That means three babies born every hour suffer a birth injury, which amounts to 2,000 a month nationally.
Recently, the parents of one of those children have filed a lawsuit against a hospital, a doctor, two medical service providers and a nurse – all of whom they allege are liable for injuries to their newborn son, who was delivered 10 weeks early in 2015. This was the couple’s third child, and the mother developed a medical condition that resulted in her being forced to have the baby boy delivered by emergency Cesarean. Being premature, the boy suffered from digestive issues. According to WYFF NBC-4, the baby was transferred to a hospital in Greenville. Doctors recommended he be transferred to another location in Charlotte, but the family wanted him to be treated in Greenville because it would allow them be closer to their other two children until the boy was strong enough to go home.
Over the next several days, the baby’s overall health improved. He was doing much better with feeding. The family stayed at a local Ronald McDonald House for several months. In July, the couple was preparing to bring the boy home. They and their older children went out for a meal and were preparing to return to the Ronald McDonald House to collect their things and prepare to bring the new addition home. However, when they returned to the hospital, the baby was “inconsolable.”
A traveling nurse on duty had moved the baby to a larger crib and alleged the child had been banging his head against the side of the crib. However, at that point, the baby was just 41 weeks in gestational age, which would have meant it would have been impossible for him to have the strength in his neck to lift his head and bang it on the side of the crib.
From that point forward, plaintiff’s say, the baby’s health declined dramatically. When they brought their concerns to the doctor, he allegedly dismissed them and declined to perform certain testing, even though they asked for it repeatedly. The nurse who had been caring for him that night reportedly encouraged them not long after to take the child home without the approval of his doctor, advice they first took to be out of kindness, but now suspect had to do with the nurse wanting them to take the child out of the hospital before he could be diagnosed with injuries related to his care.
In late July, physicians performed a chest X-ray on the child and determined he had six rib fractures. He was also suffering from severe macrocephaly as the result of extra fluid buildup that resulted from massive bleeding on the brain. The tests indicated those injuries were at least from two weeks prior. An eye exam also indicated retinal hemorrhages in both eyes.
Because there was no medical explanation for these injuries, a police report was filed. Initially, police suspected the parents may have been to blame, but later cleared them of wrongdoing. Authorities then began to review surveillance tape at the hospital, and concluded the traveling nurse was the most likely culprit. Although she was suspended from working at the hospital, she was never formally charged. This was despite the fact an internal investigation by the hospital revealed another infant in her care had suffered a broken arm, which she alleged was the fault of the mother, who was dressing the child.
The delay in diagnosis for the child meant he suffered a severe head injury and is likely at risk for significant developmental delays into the future, as well as life-long cognitive disabilities and visual problems. In all likelihood, plaintiffs say he will need treatment and monitoring the rest of his life.
In Florida, state statute limits compensation for non-economic damages (i.e., pain-and-suffering) in medical malpractice lawsuits resulting in injury at no more than $500,000. The Florida Supreme Court decided two years ago that such damage caps were unconstitutional in medical malpractice cases in which the patient died. More recently, two appellate courts ruled the same legal theories should apply to cases that result in personal injury, but not death. The Florida Supreme Court is reviewing.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Couple to file suit alleging GHS NICU nurse seriously injured infant, Nov. 17, 2016, By Carla Field WYFF NBC-4
More Blog Entries:
2nd DCA: Florida Med-Mal Injury Damage Caps Unconstitutional, Nov. 20, 2016, Orlando Birth Injury Lawyer Blog