A jury in Ohio's Summit County awarded $11.35 million to the family of a boy who experienced a brain injury following a two-week medical malpractice trial. Matthew and Lisa Ellis brought a claim against Dr. Laura Fortner and Atrium OB/GYN Inc. stating that negligence was demonstrated during their son's birth, leading to disabilities that are intellectual and social. The defense argues that they had adhered to proper medical standards. The Ellis' said they are glad that the award will allow the boy to obtain the special care that he needs.
Court documents showed that the child was delivered vaginally with a vacuum and forceps. The plaintiffs asserted that delivery via Caesarian section was appropriate due to the size and direction of the baby's head and also because this was Ellis' first child. The baby was said to have suffered contusions, bruising and other trauma and was hospitalized for neonatal care. As the child passed the age of eight, the parents noticed the social and developmental delays.
An MRI revealed that brain damage existed from birth injuries and doctors felt he may have autism. A baby photo also showed evidence of a contusion. The plaintiffs contended they continued to accrue medical expenses and have had losses of income related to his care. The jury determined that the negligence was clear in the handling of medical charting and a lack of communication, which led to an extended period of labor. The defense continued to insist that the standards of care were satisfied.
Medical malpractice actions that stem from birth injuries typically require a large investment of time and money that can be burdensome to plaintiffs and some attorneys. Often highly specialized expert witnesses are needed to prove a case and counter those testifying on behalf of the insurance company. It is critical that medical providers understand the medical history of the mother and child, and assess complications properly. Failures in preparation are often what cause the harm.
Some injuries that occur may be permanent, such as those involving damage to tissues, nerves, and the brain. Some of the most common types of complication include:
- Mothers or children with anemia
- The baby is improperly positioned for delivery
- Problems with amniotic fluid or the umbilical cord
- Excessive bleeding
- Gestational diabetes
- A baby with an enlarged head (Cephalopelvic Disproportion)
- Placenta Accreta: When the placenta is too deeply attached to the uterus wall
- Placenta Previa: When the placenta is positioned low in the uterus, obstructing the cervix and may begin to open during labor
Delays in development are typically recognized when a child fails to reach a milestone in a timely manner. Although some children develop slower than others, some prolonged development may suggest that screening and evaluation are needed. Examples may include an inability to sit upright, smile, or walk when they should be capable of doing so. Some of the providers who specialize in such delays include developmental psychologists, pediatricians, and neurologists.