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Birth injury prompts hospital to pay $6.5 million

For most Maryland parents, it is difficult to imagine how a medical professional could overlook indications that something was wrong during childbirth, but that is what a judge recently concluded in ordering a hospital to pay $6.5 million in damages to one family.

In a military hospital in Texas in 2008, a first-time mother gave birth to a slightly premature son through induced labor. She knew instantly something was wrong because the baby did not cry, move or drink from a feeding bottle, she says. Three days later, the baby was airlifted to another military hospital and remained there for eight days. Doctors there explained that the child had experienced severe brain damage birth and would likely develop cerebral palsy.

After hearing this news, the mother research cerebral palsy and her family's medical history and discovered that her son had suffered a birth injury and not an inherited medical condition.

The mother filed suit and claimed that the first hospital's doctors had failed to recognize she was having intensified contractions, distressing the baby and prompting a caesarean delivery. The lawsuit alleged that too much oxytocin, a drug used to induce labor, had caused the severe contractions.

A medical error during childbirth can have profound effects on the child's health and can pose emotional and financial challenges to the child's family. In this case, the family moved to another state where a relative can help take care of the 5-year-old boy, who cannot talk or walk and must be fed through a feeding tube.

The mother has said that at first she felt anger but that she and her husband have moved on. She noted that the money will ensure her that someone will always be able take care of her son even if something happens to her or her husband.

Source: Killeen Daily Herald, "Judge: Darnall Negligent During Birth," Rose L. Thayer, Dec. 5, 2013

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