Jury Finds Negligence, Awards $11.48 Million in Newborn’s Death

2011 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Wrongful death trial: 8-day old twin at Beth Israel Hospital died of necrotizing enterocolitis—jury finds medical negligence

The plaintiffs brought a wrongful death action on behalf of their eight day old twin daughter who was born premature at 30 weeks at Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, MA. She weighed 2 pounds, 7 ounces. She was intubated at birth, was weaned from the ventilator on day two of life and progressed to breathing normally on room air on day four of life. She was small, but otherwise healthy.

Because she was preterm, she was at risk for developing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a condition where the immature bowel cannot handle the stress of feedings and becomes infected and dies. She was also found to have a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) which required treatment with Indocin putting her at greater risk for NEC. She was being fed increasing amounts of enteral feedings, via a tube going through her nose to her stomach, which also put her at risk for NEC.

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See more recent newborn death lawsuits:
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Death of Newborn Malpractice Settlement: $1M
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Also see our Patient Safety Blog posts:
Mother's Dying in Childbirth — A Preventable Tragedy

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Because of the risk factors for NEC, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants should have been paying close and careful attention for any signs or symptoms of NEC. The plaintiff contended that signs and symptoms were present, however the defendants claimed these were all non-specific findings and specifically denied there were any signs or symptoms of NEC.

The defendants contended they met the standards of medical care for this very small and fragile premature baby. They further contended that the death, while unfortunate, was not predictable or preventable, and that the NEC arose in a fulminate way at the very end when there was nothing that could be done to save her. They reacted properly and appropriately and timely to the presentation, and complied in all respects with acceptable medical care.

The case was brought against two neonatologists, two nurse practitioners, and two registered nurses. The jury found that one doctor and one nurse practitioner were negligent, and that such negligence caused the baby’s death. The jury awarded $50,000 for the baby’s conscious pain and suffering, and $3,500,000 each to the baby’s mother and father for their loss of the mother-daughter and father-daughter relationship.

The case took two and a half weeks to try, and the jury deliberated for seven and a half hours over two days

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this medical negligence lawsuit.

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