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University hospital settles birth injury claim for $3.75 million

Medical malpractice can take many forms, from surgical errors to diagnostic mistakes. Due to the complexity of medicine, it can even be difficult for some to know whether or not malpractice contributed to their patient injuries.

In what one attorney referred to as a "cutting-edge area of medical malpractice," a family recently settled a birth injuries lawsuit against a major hospital for $3.75 million. Maryland couples considering children might find the case involving the rather commonly used drug Pitocin (pih-TOH'-sihn) interesting.

The lawsuit alleges that the University hospital employees were negligent during the birth of a child and that their negligence resulted in the child's subsequent brain damage causing severe mental retardation. The hospital, however, denies any and all allegations that its employees acted negligently or that their conduct caused the child's birth injuries.

According to the complaint, the 20-year-old mother was full term when she went to the state-affiliated university hospital back in 2007. While at the hospital, the young mother claims that she was given Pitocin. She further contends that she was given the drug before it was determined whether her contractions were too strong or frequent.

The complaint also alleges that hospital staff continued to give the young mother the drug despite signs that she was having excessive contractions and "significant trauma" to the child's head. The baby was finally delivered after a 28-hour labor via cesarean-section. The child now suffers from cerebral palsy and other serious health conditions.

At times hospitals will settle rather than risk the bad press and expense of prolonged litigation. For families struggling with the effects of birth injuries, settlement can be equally preferable. Deciding whether or not to settle can be a big decision. Taking the time and discussing all the options with experienced counsel is key to making the right choice.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Iowa to pay $3.75M in boy's injuries," Ryan J. Foley, Associated Press, July 6, 2012

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