Pennsylvania Woman and Her Child Win $4 Million Award for Birth Injury Caused By Medical Negligence

Recently, a jury in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania awarded a woman and her daughter $4 million for a birth injury attributed to an obstetrician’s negligence. The doctor ignored Erin McCarthy when she expressed concerns that her daughter might be too large to deliver vaginally.

medical-instruments-3-1033916-m.jpgMcCarthy’s daughter, Chloe, was born in 2009 at Lehigh Valley Hospital. Four days prior to going into labor, McCarthy had an ultrasound that showed her baby weighed roughly 10 pounds. When she expressed fears about delivering vaginally, McCarthy’s doctor, Dr. Karouno, told her not to worry. Yet after McCarthy went to the hospital, the labor stopped progressing for close to eight hours. Instead of opting to deliver the baby via Caesarian section, Dr. Karouno still thought it best to deliver vaginally. When McCarthy became too tired to push, Dr. Karouno used forceps to try and guide the baby out. At one point, the baby’s shoulder became stuck in McCarthy’s pelvis, resulting in a 3.5-minute period where the baby was not receiving oxygen. Afterward, Chloe required resuscitation by the neonatal intensive care unit. The baby was then transferred to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, where a brain cooling procedure was performed to limit the amount of damage caused by oxygen deprivation.

Even so, Chloe ended up suffering from mild cerebral palsy and other brain-related injuries. Her stay at Thomas Jefferson lasted two months. McCarthy herself suffered injuries that rendered her incontinent and unable to perform work as a result of her prolonged labor.

Meanwhile, Dr. Karouno argued that according to current literature, a baby without oxygen is not in danger of brain damage unless the deprivation happened for six minutes or longer. The jury ultimately found this argument unpersuasive.

The $4 million award is the second medical malpractice award over $1 million in Lehigh County in the past two years. Dr. Karouno is considering an appeal, claiming the jury did not consider evidence that he acted appropriately.

Without proper action, too many distress situations during labor can lead to permanent injuries for the baby and/or mother. Besides cerebral palsy, a baby can also suffer nerve injury due to use of forceps, resulting in facial nerve palsy, spinal injuries, or a skull fracture, among other injuries. A baby might also suffer from Erb’s Palsy, where the baby suffers from a weakness or paralysis of the arm. Such conditions often require extensive care for the rest of the baby’s life. In Maryland, someone with such a condition can file a lawsuit before he or she turns 21. Therefore, minors who experience cerebral palsy, Erb’s Palsy, nerve damage, retinopathy of prematurity, or any other problems attributable to a birth injury, should consult with a Baltimore birth injury attorney as soon as possible to learn their options.

Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt has more than 100 years of collective experience dealing with medical malpractice and birth injury cases. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, the firm represents residents in Maryland and Washington, D.C. If you have a birth injury or other medical malpractice issue, contact us today for a free consultation.

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