There is nothing more terrifying for a North Carolina parent than to realize that their child is seriously ill. In such a case, parents expect that their child’s primary physician can determine when a child’s symptoms warrant a referral to a specialist. One family claims that their daughter’s current condition is a result of medical malpractice and could have been prevented if her pediatrician had referred her to a pediatric cardiologist. A jury recently agreed and rendered a multi-million dollar verdict as a result.
According to reports, the child, now 5, was born in 2008. She reportedly suffers from severe brain damage as a result of a heart condition that caused her to stop breathing as an infant. Although a nurse in the defendant’s medical office recorded that the girl had a high heart rate on two different occasions soon after she was born, the girl’s parents claim they were not referred to a cardiologist. Soon afterwards, the baby had difficulty breathing and was transported to the hospital for treatment. Reports indicate that she had to be revived en route.
Additionally, the baby’s heart stopped beating while undergoing surgery to correct her heart condition. While medical experts argue that this child’s specific heart condition is difficult to diagnose soon after birth, it quickly becomes apparent. While representatives for the girl’s parents claim that the pediatrician would not have been able to diagnose the condition, he should have referred her to a specialist for additional care. In most cases, the girl’s condition can be successfully treated with early intervention.
In this case, the jury agreed with the plaintiffs and ordered an award of $7 million. Of that amount, $1 million is specified for pain and suffering, but will likely be reduced under state law. Hopefully, this verdict will help the parents provide quality medical care for the young girl and elevate her overall quality of life. While it is difficult to decide to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a respected doctor within North Carolina, it is important that doctor’s are held responsible for their mistakes in order to prevent similar situations in the future.
Source: Cumberland Times-News, Jury renders multi-million verdict in malpractice lawsuit, Matthew Bieniek, Oct. 25, 2013