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Jury Awards $1.1 Million After Child Suffers Brain Injury Following Surgery

In 2007 a then-eleven month old boy went into surgery that was suppose to treat a sleeping condition. The child was previously tested for a condition known as sleep apnea, where the individual has breathing problems while asleep. Essentially, the child had repeated “episodes” while asleep (up to fifty a night) which blocked oxygen flow into his brain. The dangers of the condition–which affect individuals of all ages–required a surgical fix. Unfortunately, mistakes would lead to severe problems for the child. It is a tragic example of malpractice that our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys know affects many residents throughout the country, including in our area.

The Case
The child’s otolaryngologist recommended to the family that the boy have surgery to remove his tonsils, adenoids, and insert ear tube. The surgery was scheduled and carried out at a local hospital.

However, according to a new article from Penn Live, the child’s family claims the boy’s symptoms and medical history revealed that he had a high risk of surgical complications. In particular, there were clear risks that he might experience respiratory problems and low blood oxygen levels. Followings the surgery the child’s recovery did not go smoothly. He initially had to remain in the recovery room for five hours because of breathing problems and low blood oxygen levels.

A subsequent medical malpractice suit filed by the family claims that the boy’s doctor did not conduct proper follow up examinations to check on the recovery. In addition, the child was placed on a regular floor instead of an intensive care unit. Staff members at the hospital were not ordered to monitor the child’s oxygen level during this time.

Tragically, these oversights would prove damaging.

The boy was soon found unresponsive in his hospital bed–he was not breathing and had no pulse. He was resuscitated, but not before suffering a serious brain injury. An MRI taken afterwards revealed the injury.

Verdict
The medical malpractice lawsuit filed by the family eventually went to trial. At trial the family’s medical malpractice attorney explained that the child’s cardiac arrest and brain injury would not have occurred if the doctor would have taken proper preventative steps–like requiring monitoring of blood oxygen levels. Medical expert testimony was undoubtedly influential at this trial. Experts explained what a reasonable professional would have done in the same situation. That reasonable conduct was then compared with what the doctor in this case actually did. The discrepancy likely led to the jury reaching the verdict in the plaintiff’s favor.

After a seven day trial the jury deliberated for a few hours before returning a verdict in favor of the family. They were awarded $1.1 million by the jury. That money will likely be placed in a trust to provide for the child’s long-term care needs. It remains unclear how extensive the child will be impaired as a result of the injuries. The family’s attorney explained that the boy is already about a year and a half behind his peers. The developmental delays will likely continue into adulthood, but the full extent of the impairment will not be known for years.

See Our Related Blogs:

CNN’s “10 Shocking Medical Mistakes”

Danger of Anesthesia Errors