A Cook County Circuit Court judge awarded $23.1 million to the family of a 5-year old girl from Tinley Park, IL who suffers from health concerns following birth at Palos Community Hospital. Judge Kay Hanlon ruled that Dr. Thomas Myers, a neonatologist, was negligent in assisting with the birth of Drew Kerrins. Dr. Myers, who did not work directly for the hospital, is liable for roughly $2 million while the hospital is responsible for the remaining awarded damages. Kerrins has endured several persistent health concerns including cerebral palsy, brain damage and epilepsy after she lost a significant amount of blood in the hours immediately following her birth.
Dr. Myers was actually employed by Renaissance Medical Group, who contracted with the hospital to provide neonatal support services. The mother, Becky, was 38 years old at the time and had been classified as a “high-risk” pregnancy. She has been unable to work since Drew was born due to the need for constant care and therapy in order to execute day-to-day functions. Becky had originally chosen Palos for the child's birth, which occurred via Caesarean section, because the facility had on-site neonatal specialist services
Drew was estimated to have lost approximately 60% of her supply of blood amid the delivery where a fetal rupture occurred. The hospital did not readily have adequate amounts of blood on-hand, resulting in significant damage to the brain. The circumstances were unusual; as Dr. Myers completed his work day at the hospital, he accidentally left his pager and mobile phone in his work clothes prior to going home that day. The hospital staff was unable to initially reach Myers, who admitted that for the first time in years, he inadvertently left both devices behind and was unreachable. The hospital did reach a co-worker who then contacted Myers at home and fortunately was able to arrive back at the hospital in 20 minutes. Kerrins was transferred to Advocate Children's Hospital, where she remained for a period of nine weeks in intensive care.
A neonatologist specializes in complex scenarios involving newborns, complimenting the care provided by obstetricians and pediatricians, working primarily in nurseries and other critical acute-care settings. Some of their areas of care include:
- Treating newborns with complications such as infection, birth defects and difficulty breathing
- Coordination of care for those born prematurely in the interim transition to pediatric care
- Providing immediate care for problems a mother or baby may encounter while in the delivery room
The National Vital Statistics report from the CDC indicates that there has been an increasing trend where women over the age of 35 are having children. Their data reflects the increasing risk for medical concerns, particularly among women in child birth who are 40 years of age. Overall, there has been an increase in delaying child bearing among first-time mothers. Observers note that these women have a greater likelihood to be better educated, with better resources enabling them to provide a stable upbringing compared to those in the early child bearing years