In a complex medical malpractice case involving the death of a baby born after just 23 weeks of gestation, a jury awarded the child’s parents $4.3 million.
The case, Dean v. Central Georgia Women’s Health Center, was against two obstetricians alleged to have failed in abiding by the standard of care, given the mother’s medical condition and history of miscarriages. Each doctor was found 50 percent liable for the child’s death, which the parents contended was foreseeable and preventable.
Although jurors listened to mountains of evidence over eight days, including expert witness testimony and extensive medical records, they deliberated just over two hours before reaching a verdict in favor of plaintiffs.
Central to the case was what happened in the days leading up to the child’s premature birth. Mother had undergone a type of surgery that affected the strength of her cervix. As a result, she had already suffered two prior miscarriages. This pregnancy was considered high-risk.
When she began to suffer symptoms of premature labor, the doctors ordered the proper tests necessary to monitor the condition. However, they did not properly follow what would be the acceptable standard of care in the circumstances by following through when signs of a problem were detected.
Specifically, there is a well-known procedure that involves suturing the cervix in such a way that it can remain in tact throughout the remainder of the pregnancy in order to improve the chances of a full-term delivery. These doctors did not do that. In fact, according to one expert witness testifying for plaintiffs, the doctors simply “watched the train go off the tracks.”
The physicians, meanwhile, ordered they were not negligent because the procedure in question would not have prevented a premature labor. They asserted that mother’s medical condition was unrelated to premature labor.
To counter this position, plaintiffs noted mother did ultimately give birth to a healthy child, a girl, the year after this child, a boy, was born. In that case, mother underwent the suture of the cervix and physicians took other precautionary steps. The baby was still born early – at 34 weeks, but that’s only four-to-five weeks shy of full-term. The girl is now thriving.
The jury did not buy defense’s argument, and found both doctor’s had committed medical malpractice and were liable for the child’s death.
The little boy weighed just 1 pound, 26 ounces at the time of birth. He fought hard to live, but he was simply too small.
Key to any medical malpractice lawsuit in Fort Lauderdale – or anywhere – is not whether the outcome was adverse. Rather, the proof burden requires plaintiffs to show doctors failed to adhere to the applicable standard of care given the circumstances.
This is established through expert witness testimony, as well as through medical records and peer-reviewed studies.
These cases also have more stringent statutes of limitations and notice requirements. Often, cases are dismissed prior to trial on technicalities.
While we recognize no amount of money is going to replace the devastating loss of a child, we seek to hold accountable doctors and hospitals that fail to follow the basic proper medical guidelines. Ultimately, we want to prevent tragedies like this from occurring again, and verdicts like this ensure medical professionals are held to the highest standards.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Macon Jury Awards $4.3 Million for Death of Premature Baby, April 30, 2015, By Katheryn Hayes Tucker, The Daily Report
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