TC Palm News reported this week on the beginning of a medical malpractice trial involving what the family claims was a preventable birth injury. The suit was filed by a family after a traumatic birthing experienced led to immense emotional distress and permanent physical harm to both the child and mother. Jury selection is now underway and, barring and last minute settlement, the trial will proceed over the coming days and weeks.
According to the involved family, the 2008birth was problematic from the beginning. The infant was actually not breathing when born, but medical staff members were able to resuscitate the child. The mother, herself a registered nurse, was thirty-nine years old at the time of the birth. The family’s birth injury attorney has explained that there were warning signs about the birth from the very beginning. Yet, even though there was fetal distress, the hospital staff continued to attempt normal labor. It wasn’t until later that the medical team actually ordered an emergency Cesarean section. The delay led to the baby being born without a heartbeat. However, even after the resuscitation the child had suffered irreparable damage. The boy, now three, suffers from cerebral palsy. The mother also experienced significant medical problems as a result of the birthing errors. Besides immense pain and suffering, she was forced to have a hysterectomy.
In proceeding with the birth injury lawsuit, the involved medical malpractice attorney claims that had the child been born just fifteen minutes earlier then there would have been virtually no problems. Even that slight delay in ordering an emergency C-section led to significant, life-long complications for the mother and child. These very sensitive timing issues are common points of contention in these legal cases.
Obviously doctors, nurses, and others involved in delivering children day in and day out are aware of the difference that even a few minutes delay can have in the overall outcome of a birth. It is certainly not a surprise to these professionals that allowing an infant to remain in distress for a certain length of time without responding immediately (by ordering a C-section) can result in harm to the mother and the development of permanent physical and developmental damage to the child. All medical professionals are held to a reasonable level of care in these matters. If a jury finds that they did not act as a prudent medical team would have acted, then liability should attach.
Jury selection for the trial is set to being tomorrow. The jury selection process works a bit differently depending on the specific court. In this case the advocates for both sides will attempt to narrow down a jury from among 50 potential jurors. However, that jury pool may actually need to be expanded, because there may not be enough individuals within that pool who are able to sit for what could be an extended trial. The legal teams expect there to be at least 15 days of testimony and jury deliberations. Because of the often complex medical issues involved and the many involved actors, these cases often last much longer than other negligence or injury matters.
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