Florida woman wins medical malpractice lawsuit over birth injury

A Miami, Florida, woman was awarded $23 million in damages by a Charlotte County Circuit Court jury for medical malpractice that resulted in her premature daughter being born with severe brain damage and cerebral palsy.

The mother visited her obstetrician in 2010 when she was pregnant with her first child. At 24 weeks of pregnancy, she had protein in her urine and high blood pressure, indicating early-onset, severe pre-eclampsia. The pre-eclampsia warranted her admission to a high-level care hospital for the remainder of her pregnancy.

However, the mother was not transferred to a high-level care hospital for treatment. The doctor referred her to Peace River Regional Medical Center, now Bayfront Health Port Charlotte, a community hospital that does not deliver babies at less than 33 weeks gestation. Hospital tests showed that the fetus was small for its gestational age, placing the child at risk for brain injury.

The mother was not administered antenatal corticosteroids required for women at risk for premature delivery to prevent brain injuries to the child, according to court documents. She underwent an emergency Caesarean section. The baby, now four years old, was born at 26 weeks gestation with severe brain damage and severe cerebral palsy, requiring a lifetime of skilled nursing care.

After a three-week trial, jurors found the doctor and hospital negligent for violating several patient safety rules, such as failing to transfer high-risk patients whose needs exceed the hospital’s capabilities. The verdict attributed 70 percent liability to the woman’s physician and the other 30 percent to the hospital.

It is important to note that determining fault can be more complicated than it might seem. If your child was injured and you believe someone else is fully or partially to blame, contact Chalik & Chalik to learn more about your rights.