A Baltimore jury has awarded a young mother $229 million for what her attorney calls the largest medical malpractice verdict ever awarded. The mother, Erica Byrom (then aged 16), said she was told by doctors at John Hopkins Bayview Medical Centre that she should forego a C-section, since her preeclampsia and high blood pressure could result in brain damage or death for her child. In fact, Byrom’s baby, Zubida Byrom, suffered a hypoxic brain injury from lack of oxygen, and now has cerebral palsy. Her condition requires 24-hour care. The hospital released a statement stating that the patient was well informed of all the risks involved, though the jury disagreed.
Differing Versions of the Same Event
In the lawsuit, Hopkins attorneys claimed that that the patient had refused a C-section. They also alleged that the injuries Zubida faced occurred after labor had already commenced, not before. Byrom’s attorneys, however, argued that a C-section was the safest option considering all the circumstances. As stated by medical malpractice legal specialists, JJS Justice, around 20% of all cerebral palsy cases arise from brain damage that happens during the birthing process. Byrom was just 25 weeks pregnant when she was admitted into the Hospital with severe preeclampsia. When preeclampsia is present, speedy delivery is vital, since the condition can lead to serious – sometimes fatal – consequences for both mother and baby.
Medical Errors a Leading Cause of Death in America
Medical mistakes are currently the third leading cause of death in the U.S. The American Medical Association, meanwhile, states that over a third of doctors has had a medical malpractice suit filed against them at some point during their careers. Medical malpractice can be present in many ways. For instance, mothers may not be given enough information early on in their pregnancy, maternal infections may not be handled correctly, and wrong medications may be administered or prescribed. Another issue is failure to give mothers treatment in a timely manner, or to give the assistance required when a mother is undergoing a prolonged labor that could affect the health of her baby. Additional errors involve wrong diagnosis, administrative errors, and problems in the emergency or delivery room.
Zubida Byrom stopped breathing and had no heart rate at two minutes of age. In her case, cerebral palsy arose from a lack of oxygen, as a result of the failure to conduct a C-section. The landmark Baltimore decision won’t give Zubida the life she would have had, but it at least assures she will have a high level of care so she can lead the best possible life.