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Inaccurate ultrasound causes infant to suffer brain damage

After nearly four years, a 34-year-old mother has final found justice for the brain injury her son sustained during birth. According to the woman, her doctor took an ultrasound and told her that her son had died. Shortly thereafter, other hospital staff members took an ultrasound and detected a heartbeat. This news would encourage most North Carolina parents, but the consequences of the misdiagnosis were unfortunate.

Over the course of the 81 minutes between the two ultrasounds, the infant was deprived of oxygen. As a result, the child is living with cerebral palsy. Recently, a jury ruled that the hospital was negligent in providing an accurate assessment of the baby's condition. That error led to irreversible brain damage. As a result of the damages, the court awarded $78.5 million to the child and his mother.

According to experts who testified during the medical malpractice proceedings, if the baby had been delivered immediately after the first ultrasound, the brain injury could have been prevented. Waiting over an hour was too long to preserve the infant's health.

The woman, who is a single mother, will receive payments from the hospital that will allow her to cover future medical expenses and wages she loses as a result of the negligent care she and her son received. Additionally, the payments also include compensation for the child's pain and suffering.

With all the medical technology that exists, it seems like it would be easy to detect a child's heartbeat. However, obviously flawed diagnostic techniques created undue hardship for the mother and her son. The stress of raising a child as a single mother is enough without making additional considerations for medical care.

Certainly, nothing can undo what happened that day at the hospital. Yet this ruling will allow the woman to provide a comfortable life for her son, without the same kind of stress and trauma the boy endured at birth.

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, "Phila. jury awards $78.5M in medical malpractice case," Chris Mondics, May 6, 2012

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