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$40 million lawsuit filed in birth injury case

North Carolina readers might be interested in the details of a $40 million medical malpractice lawsuit filed in an Oregon court. The suit alleges that hospital doctors and staff were negligent during the birth of a baby boy who was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. According to the complaint, the boy was born at 8:31 a.m. on Dec. 12, 2007. He was 15 days overdue and hospital staff had increased the mother's dosage of labor inducement drugs for 11 hours before telling her to start pushing. The baby's heartbeat dropped to a rate of 60 beats per minute for a period of six minutes, according to the medical malpractice attorney hired by the family.

The lawsuit alleges a number of mistakes by hospital doctors and staff, including a failure to clear the baby's throat of meconium inhaled before or during birth. Meconium is the baby's own fecal matter; it is not uncommon, according to an obstetrician who was not involved in the case, for babies to inhale meconium if they are stressed during birth. The doctor said that the hospital's delivery team should have considered that the baby in this case may have inhaled meconium.

This failure, according to the lawsuit, caused the boy to be deprived of oxygen and led to his cerebral palsy. The couple contacted an attorney after reading about a link between cerebral palsy and oxygen deprivation during birth. Lack of oxygen during delivery or labor contributes to cerebral palsy in up to 10 percent of cases. The attorney evaluated the facts and advised the plaintiffs that they may have medical malpractice claims against multiple defendants.

The plaintiffs are demanding compensation in the amount of $40 million. The complaint alleges that hospital and doctor negligence directly caused the boy's permanent disability, impairing his earning capacity and ensuring continuing medical expenses for the rest of his life. The defendants in this case have denied responsibility for the boy's injuries and have argued that the lawsuit is barred by the statute of limitations.

Source: Statesman Journal, "Lawsuit over birth injury: Misfortune or malpractice?", Saerom Yoo, May 25, 2014

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