Family Secures $25 Million In New York Hospital Malpractice Lawsuit
Failure to diagnose a case of infant jaundice has wreaked havoc on the lives of a six-year old Brooklyn boy and his parents. According to details unveiled in the family’s hospital malpractice lawsuit, negligent health care providers at New York Methodist Hospital made critical mistakes during the boy’s first days of life, rendering him brain damaged and in need of 24-hour care.
This past November, a jury found the hospital liable for malpractice and handed down a $25 million verdict for the family. According to allegations, the child was sent home from Methodist Hospital in 2007, less than 2 days after his birth, despite obvious signs of jaundice including yellowing eyes.
The undiagnosed jaundice would go on to damage the boy’s brain, leaving him permanently bound to a wheelchair and mentally disabled.
A lawyer representing the victims said, “I don’t know if I’ve seen a more preventable case … It’s heartbreaking to see a child like this.”
New York hospital malpractice lawsuit details
Court documents reveal that medical personnel failed to accurately diagnose the infant’s jaundice in 2007, and in fact, dismissed the mother’s concerns over the child’s yellowed eyes. Once discharged from the hospital, the boy’s condition rapidly deteriorated, causing him to vomit. Another trip to Kings County hospital confirmed the child had hyperbilirubinemia — a severe form of jaundice that can lead to brain trauma and cerebral palsy.
Attending doctors gave the child several blood transfusions, but the damage had already been done as accumulating Bilirubin is toxic to cells in the brain. While most cases of jaundice are mild and pass without treatment, the risk of acute bilirubin encephalopathy or hyperbilirubinemia is always present. Babies who develop this dangerous condition may have a fever, vomit, be listless and feed poorly. While hyperbilirubinemia is not completely preventable, early diagnosis and treatment of jaundice are crucial in stopping bilirubin levels from rising to dangerous levels.
The multi-million verdict will help the family offer the best care possible for the child, but the mother says she would happily trade the award for a healthy son.
“He cannot sit by himself. He cannot walk,” the mother said. “It’s very, very, very hard.”
Methodist Hospital has denied any misconduct and say they plan to appeal the malpractice verdict.
Failure to diagnose leads to dire consequences
The victim in this case was discharged from the hospital without a proper exam or follow-up, which is normal protocol among all neonatal units. While a visual inspection for jaundice symptoms (yellowish tint to the skin, the white part of the eyes and the inside of the mouth) is sometimes sufficient, doctors can also analyze blood bilirubin levels for a more accurate diagnosis. If an infant has a mild case of jaundice, light therapy, blood transfusions and/or Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) are usually successful treatments.
Speak to a hospital malpractice attorney
The Sanders Firm offers free legal consultations to New Yorkers who have suffered injuries stemming from misdiagnoses, failure to diagnose and other medical mistakes. Call our offices at 1.800 FAIR PLAY to learn more about your options for securing damages in a New York hospital malpractice lawsuit. Resources
- Daily News, Disabled Brooklyn boy awarded $25 million in untreated jaundice case against New York Methodist Hospital, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/methodist-hospital-malpractice-article-1.1522103#commentpostform
- Mayo Clinic, Infant Jaundice Complications, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/infant-jaundice/DS00107/DSECTION=complications
- American Family Physician, Neonatal Jaundice, http://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/0301/p947.html