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$9.6 million awarded for brain injuries in childbirth case

There are many pitfalls that doctors must anticipate and guard against in the childbirth process. When a recognized safety measure is neglected by the physician, this may constitute medical negligence. When the negligence is a substantial cause of serious injury or death to the baby and/or the mother, a claim for medical malpractice will be recognized under the law of Delaware and other states. In a case originating in another state, a federal judge in U.S. District Court recently awarded $9.6 million to a baby who suffered brain injuries due to a delayed C-section delivery.

In an apparent non-jury trial, the judge decided that the delivery doctor waited too long to perform a Cesarean operation despite seeing that the baby's heart rate was getting worse and the mother would not withstand a vaginal delivery. The girl is now 3 years old. The judge explained that the girl cannot see, will never walk and must be fed through a tube in the stomach.

In such an award, the funds are put into a trust account and expenditures made over the years for medical and other expenses to care for the girl. Much of the amount will go to medical and physical care services for the rest of the child's life. Other amounts will go to medications, medical devices, therapy services, educational expenses and any surgeries that may become necessary.

In this kind of a substantial award, the court will likely appoint a financial guardian or conservator to report to the court at least annually on the financial status of the account. Unfortunately, in cases of negligent birth delivery, brain injuries are often suffered by the baby. This is generally due to the deprivation of oxygen to the brain during those periods when corrective action is medically necessary but neglected by the medical providers. Because the law of medical negligence is similar from state to state, it is likely that a similar finding of liability by the doctor would be the result also in Delaware in a case of similar facts.

Source:, "Judge awards $9.6M to child in medical malpractice case", Nov. 2, 2015

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