Settlement for $4.35 Million for Child Injured by Overventilation

This case was settled pre-suit for $4.35 million (total annuity payout: $11 million). 

The Case: Medical Malpractice in Improperly Ventilating a Newborn Child

In this case, a 35-year-old mother was pregnant with twins. She had a short cervix and underwent a cerclage to remedy this at 21 weeks’ gestation. At 33 weeks, she was admitted to the hospital with preeclampsia; she underwent a C-Section because of her high blood pressure. Both babies were healthy when born, but were admitted to the NICU because they were small for their age and premature.

One of the twins had difficulty breathing after birth and started showing signs of apnea of prematurity, low blood oxygen levels and a slow heart rate. Medical staff gave him oxygen via CPAP, and he continued to have breathing issues for two days. One lung collapsed due to air leak syndrome; he was then intubated. After this, he developed more air in the chest, resulting in a chest tube to alleviate the issue. After this incident, he stayed in the hospital for a further 36 days. Diagnostic imaging showed normal readings, but showed that the child developed brain injury due to hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) over the course of his hospital stay.

As a result, the child has brain damage, hypotonic non-spastic cerebral palsy, developmental delays, and cognitive deficits. He (along with the other twin) both have hearing loss, but the hearing loss was unrelated to the malpractice claims. The other twin developed normally.

The Result: Medical Negligence in Ventilation Caused Oxygen Deprivation-Related Brain Injury

The defendants argued that the the affected twin’s neurological issues were caused by pregnancy complications (due to preeclampsia, prematurity, and twin-twin transfusion syndrome), and that the twin’s problems were probably genetic.

The attorneys at Reiter & Walsh successfully argued that the nasal cannula CPAP was set too high, which caused the initial incident of air in the chest. This air in the chest was not properly diagnosed, which resulted in the baby having low oxygen levels, slow heart rate and low blood pressure. Compounding this damage, medical staff waited too long to intubate the baby, and, when they did, they put the endotracheal tube in the wrong place, exacerbating the problem and causing further low oxygenation. Medical staff removed the air in the chest with a small needle. However, air built up in the chest again (causing more injury), resulting in a chest tube placement (which was done improperly). These errors resulted in the baby getting too little oxygen to the brain for 60 hours.

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The smaller sum we list on our site is the total value of the settlement or verdict. The larger sum is the total value of the settlement or verdict plus the expected lifetime yield of an annuity purchased with a portion of the settlement or verdict. This larger sum is the maximum value, because it takes into account the lifetime expected value of the annuity.