$11.3 Million for Neonatal Brain Injury from Jaundice and Kernicterus
Reiter & Walsh, P.C. secured a $5.8 million settlement for the baby and family (total annuity payout: $11.3 million).
This case involved a baby girl who was born premature at 29 weeks gestation due to a shortened cervix in the mother. Despite being premature, the newborn did well for the first two weeks of life. After that, however, she began to develop jaundice and extremely elevated bilirubin levels.
At 9:00 am on a Saturday, the baby girl began to develop jaundice, and though she should have been tested for high bilirubin within an hour of the noted color change, she wasn’t assessed until 4:25 pm. The normal bilirubin range is 0-1.0; at this 4:25 pm test, her bilirubin level was 29. While doctors were alerted to the extremely high bilirubin levels, nothing was done to treat and normalize the levels. Almost three hours after this initial bilirubin test, another bilirubin test was performed with a resulting value of 27.1. Still, no treatment was rendered.
On Sunday morning, at 6:18 am, almost a full day after medical personnel originally noted the baby’s jaundice levels, another bilirubin test was performed with a resulting value of 32.1 Instead of treating this elevated bilirubin, the records note that the doctor indicates further bilirubin testing later in the day.
At 9:25 am, a new doctor came on shift and immediately required that the baby girl be transferred to another facility for an exchange transfusion – a procedure used to treat excessively high bilirubin levels. At 10:14 am, 17 hours after the first panic value bilirubin results and more than 24 hours after the observation of jaundice, this two-week-old girl was finally given phototherapy, a common treatment used to alleviate jaundice and high bilirubin in newborns.
Due to the hospital staff’s failure to treat these massively high bilirubin levels in a timely manner, this little girl suffered from kernicterus – a form of brain damage that occurs in a newborn with severe jaundice, as a result of extremely high bilirubin levels. She also suffers from severe spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. She cannot walk or speak as a result of this permanent brain injury.
Hospital staff argued that the healthcare providers recognized and treated the conditions in a timely fashion in this newborn, and that the damages were a result of her premature birth. The legal team at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers proved that this little girl should have had a more timely bilirubin test upon the observation of jaundice, should have been treated immediately upon recognition of the elevated bilirubin levels, and should have never suffered from the resulting kernicterus and permanent brain damage.
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