A jury recently awarded $2.5 million to a grieving couple who lost their baby in a birth injury caused by doctors’ negligence.
The couple sued various obstetricians and gynecologists as well the practice where the expecting mother was treated. While obstetricians specialize in the management of pregnancy and labor, gynecologists specialize in the female reproductive system. Together, “ob/gyns” are trained to diagnosis and treat disorders and diseases in this field.
According to court documents, doctors discovered a complication during the mother’s pregnancy. Lab results revealed that the unborn baby had O-positive blood whereas the mother had Rh-negative blood. When this combination of blood types occurs, the baby’s O-positive blood is treated by the mother’s body as an intruder and the mother’s Rh-negative blood produces antibodies to fight the invading O-positive blood. The mother’s antibodies start to break down the fetus’s red blood cells. This condition is called hemolytic disease or hemolytic anemia. It can become severe enough to cause serious illness, brain damage, or even death in the fetus or newborn.
According to the lawsuit, doctors failed to properly monitor and treat the mother and her baby after the complication was revealed. The unborn baby developed immune hydrops fetalis, a complication of Rh incompatibility. Although a cesarean section delivery was preformed, the baby did not survive. In addition, the mother will unlikely be able to deliver another viable fetus, according to the complaint.
The jury not only awarded the parents $2 million in compensatory damages but the jury also determined that the doctors should pay $500,000 in punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to reform or deter the defendant and others from engaging in similar conduct. They are usually awarded when the jury determines that the defendants acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others. Although punitive damages are not intended to compensate the plaintiff, the plaintiff usually receives the entire punitive damage award.
To learn more about this lawsuit and other birth injuries that went to trial, follow the links.