When doctors are employees of a hospital and the U.S. government, legal issues can quickly become complicated. That is exactly what happened in a recent case where the U.S. Government was held liable for half of an $8 million birth injury lawsuit award. The doctor sued was an employee at Temple University Hospital in Pennsylvania, and was also an employee of the federal government.
Birth Injury Lawsuit Information
The birth injury lawsuit discussed herein originated in 2009 when a 37-weeks pregnant mother was sent to Temple University Hospital by her obstetrician after a decrease in fetal movement was detected. The on-call doctor was informed about the “worrisome” fetal tests but did not see the patient for nearly three hours after her arrival at the hospital.
After the almost three hours elapsed with breakdowns in communication between medical staff, an emergency Cesarean (c-section) was ordered, and the baby was delivered shortly thereafter. The baby was then diagnosed with a variety of permanent and disabling injuries including visual impairment, microcephaly, seizure disorder, and the most severe form of cerebral palsy.
Originally, the parents filed a lawsuit in Common Pleas Court seeking $100 million for damage to the baby. Pre-trial testimony suggested that the baby may already have suffered some brain damage at the time of arrival at Temple University Hospital, but that ongoing oxygen deprivation before the baby was delivered contributed to the severity of the injuries. The hospital decided not to sue the doctor, and instead chose to settle the case for $8. They were previously advised that a trial in Common Pleas Court could result in a verdict of $50 million or more if the hospital lost the case.
After deciding to settle the case, Temple University Hospital sued the U.S. Government in pursuit of exemption from legal responsibility for the injuries based on the fact that the doctor was liable as a federal employee. His time was shared between Temple University Hospital and a healthcare system run by the U.S. Government. A U.S. District Judge ruled that under Pennsylvania and federal law, the U.S. Government is partially responsible for the negligence of an employee – in this case, the obstetrician.
Birth Injury Lawsuit Settlement
In a birth injury lawsuit case, the award is often proportional to the damage done and the expected ongoing care required. In this case, the $8 million settlement amount is based on the expected lifetime care required for the baby based on the injuries suffered. While this settlement amount will certainly go a long way toward helping this family adjust to life with a permanently disabled child, it cannot take away the pain and life-changing events that have occurred.
Long-Term Effects of a Birth Injury
Birth injuries, especially those affecting the brain, often have long-term effects for your whole family. Unfortunately, birth injuries causing brain damage are among the more common types leading to lawsuits. Some of these injuries include:
Even minor birth injuries can have a devastating effect on your child and family. Severe injuries can completely reshape the way your family lives and plans for the future. Severe birth injuries like cerebral palsy often require ongoing medical care and supervision, additional surgeries, medications, therapies, and more.
While there may be no “cure” for some brain damage injuries, there are many possible treatment options to help your child live as normal a life as possible. Working with a team of health professionals, you and your family can create a Life Care Plan to address the needs of your child and determine how best to meet them. These plans can be a great help in determining a budget, schedule, and planning for the future as your child grows and ages.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
If you or your child was harmed due to medical malpractice or negligence, you may find it beneficial to contact a birth injury attorney to discuss your situation. If you have a case, you may be able to seek damages that will help you care for your child and protect your family’s future.
Contact Brown Wharton & Brothers today to schedule a free case review with one of our qualified, skilled birth injury attorneys. We have managed numerous birth injury cases and consistently get results for our clients. Fill out our online form to get started exploring your legal rights and options.