Nothing can compensate a parent for the loss of a child. A case outside of Oregon shows that juries can be sensitive to the pain and suffering caused by a doctor’s mistake.
The young mother says she was about 24 weeks pregnant when she started bleeding. Earlier in the pregnancy, her doctor had used a cerclage to keep her cervix closed. On this day, the doctor gave her the worst news of all: Her baby probably wouldn’t make it.
As she cried, she didn’t notice anything. But then she coughed, and she realized the baby was on its way, and it was breech.
The parties disagreed on what happened next. During the trial of her two physicians, the nurses who attended her that day and the hospital, the plaintiff told the jury that she rang for nurses, but no one came. When the doctor arrived, no one shielded her view as they tended to the baby.
The doctors pulled on the baby, but nothing went well. During the delivery, the baby’s head was severed.
The plaintiff said the doctor did not remove the cerclage; the shoelace-like instrument wrapped around the baby’s neck, strangling and then decapitating him.
The defendants responded that the cerclage was removed and that the scenario as described by the plaintiff was physically impossible. They also maintained that the plaintiff was just 21-weeks pregnant. Because no one could have anticipated the situation, no one thought to shield the mother’s view, they continued. Draping is no longer routine in deliveries.
Nonetheless, the plaintiff has suffered panic attacks, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder since that day. The impact on her life has been enormous, she said. She even abandoned a career working with children as a result of the incident.
The $1.4 million was far short of the $18 million she asked for, but the money “will help her for the rest of her life,” said her attorney.
Source: The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, “Mom awarded nearly $1.4 million,” Oct. 7, 2011