$900,000 Medical Malpractice Award Upheld Following Brain Damage After Birth

Hampton Roads News recently reported on the end of an appeal from a medical malpractice case where a bench verdict was upheld following a botched C-section birth. When surgical births cause serious complications to the mother, it almost always involves bleeding problems. That is what happened in this case.

The story explains that the victim’s ordeal began when she entered a hospital in early 2005 to deliver her child via a scheduled C-section. Before the procedure even took place the medical personnel were on notice that the woman had certain bleeding vulnerabilities. She had a history of pregnancy induced high blood pressure. Therefore, it was particularly important for caregivers to closely monitor her blood pressure during the procedure, especially after the delivery, to ensure nothing went awry. In many medical malpractice cases caregiver knowledge factors into the situation-it is one thing to fail to act when in the dark, it is another to act negligently in the face of a known risk.

After successfully delivering the child, the woman was brought to a private room to recover. A few hours later her partner, who was at the bedside, noticed that something was wrong. He tried calling for nursing help, but at first his pleas were ignored. Eventually a nurse did come, but she did not evaluate the situation very thoroughly. She altogether missed that the woman’s blood pressure and heart rate had become erratic. If the nurse would have looked at the monitor readings the problem would likely have been clear.

Less than two hours later the woman’s monitor alarm went off. Her blood pressure levels had become so low that her body went into shock. It wasn’t long before medical personnel decided that she needed emergency surgery. As her body was lifted from the bed to be taken to surgery the scope of the problem became clear-the bed sheets were soaked in the woman’s blood. She had actually lost half of her entire body’s supply of blood while laying the bed. The medical team was able to save her life, but not before she suffered brain damage.

Following the incident the woman filed a medical malpractice lawsuit to seek recovery for her damages as a result of the poor care she received at the facility. The three-day trial was held a few years after the actual incident. It was a bench trial, so there was no jury. After hearing the evidence the judge in the case returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $900,000. However, the family did not immediately receive the award. Instead, the verdict was appealed. It wasn’t until a few days ago that the federal appeals court upheld the verdict.

It turns out that part of the reason why the medical malpractice case was drawn out so long was the because that the doctor involved was under a federal investigation. It seems that the doctor had a history of problems, and he had botched another C-section delivery just as in this case. He was investigated by the state Board of Medicine and he eventually was forced to surrender his medical license.

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