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Ohio Jury Awards $8.5 Million Verdict For Birthing Brain Injury

An Ohio hospital must pay $8.5 million after a jury concluded that hospital staff caused severe brain injuries to a newborn baby girl. The hospital failed to properly ensure that the infant was breathing. The lack of oxygen in her brain resulted in permanent brain injuries.

The girl's injuries left her with serious lifelong impairments. She currently requires tube feeding, cannot walk or communicate, and will require fulltime care for her entire life. The jury deliberated into the middle of the night, returning a verdict after 3 a.m. on the girl's third birthday.

After three weeks of expert testimony, the jury awarded $8.5 million. This verdict accounts for the severity of the girl's impairments and the fact that she will require lifelong care.

Medical malpractice cases often involve highly technical and complex treatment questions. Like in this case, each side presents in-depth testimony by medical experts. Here, much of the evidence involved the girl's Apgar score.

An Apgar score records an infant's vital statistics immediately after birth by looking at factors like heart rate, respiration, appearance, and responsiveness. If a baby's Apgar score is too low, birthing staff should respond by promptly providing appropriate emergency care. In this case, the hospital may have been able to avoid the girl's injuries if it had resuscitated her sooner. Because they capture staff impressions of an infant's condition, Apgar records can be important evidence of neglect in birthing injury cases.

Source: Vindy, "Hospital must pay family $8.5 million, jury rules," Aug. 26, 2012

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