Earlier this week the SF Gate reported on a settlement in a birth injury case filed by a family on behalf of their injured son. According to the story the settlement is one of the largest in the state’s history. Our Chicago birth injury attorneys often explain how settlement and verdict amounts in these cases are related to the costs of long-term care needed by injury victims.
The family’s medical malpractice lawyer recently explained that the trial was related to a new area of malpractice connected to childbirth involving use of a drug–Pitocin. The drug is a synthetic hormone given to women in order to speed up the labor. However, the admission of the drug is not without side-effects. Medical practitioners must be aware of those risks and take each patient’s vulnerabilities into account to determine if the risks outweigh the possible benefit. When knowledge about the risks reach a certain level, it may become necessary for the drug to be pulled in all cases. For example, in some women the drug causes excessive contractions which actually have the exact opposite effect as intended by prolonging the labor.
The lengthening delivery process can have very serious effects on the new child, often stifling blood flow to the brain for a prolonged period of time. When that happens serious birth injuries strike, often involving the brain.
That is what happened in this case.
The mother was 20-years old when she went into labor in 2007. According to the lawsuit the woman was given Pitocin even before professionals determined if her contractions necessitated it. Then, even when evidence showed that he contractions were excessive, they continued to give her Pitocin. The baby was showing signs of significant head trauma. Yet, the delivery continued for 28 hours before finally ending in a C-section delivery.
The family eventually filed a birth injury lawsuit after the full extent of the child’s injuries were uncovered. The case was actually scheduled to go to trial in April. However, before trial the parties were able to reach an agreement in the amount of $3.75 million. Per the terms of the agreement the state–it was a public hospital–will pay $2 million initially. The rest of the money will be invested and paid to the family in monthly installments to support the child for the rest of his life.
The terms of the deal were initially unknown. However a detailed 12-page report was recently released following the approval for the settlement by the State Appeal Board.
The family expressed relief over the end of the ordeal. Like many families in similar situations, they were initially unsure if they wanted to pursue the case at all. However, they knew that it was important to set an example of accountability for other families who may have also been hurt by negligent use of the drug. In fact, in the wake of this case many hospitals have reviewed their protocol with Pitocin use. Hopefully lives will be saved as a result.
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