A Pennsylvania jury awarded $78.5 million to a mother whose baby suffered a brain injury, finding that the child’s brain damage was the result of medical malpractice. The mother, Victoria Upsey, filed suit against Pottsdown Memorial Medical Center in Pennsylvania, as well as the medical professionals that attended her child’s delivery.
Upsey was admitted to the hospital in August 2008. Doctors detected a placental abruption, in which the placental lining becomes prematurely separated from the uterus. The obstetrician performed fetal monitoring and an ultrasound, but the lawsuit alleges that the equipment used for the ultrasound was
outdated and poorly maintained. The fetus was mistakenly declared dead in the womb, but 81 minutes later, the obstetrician realized that the baby was still alive and performed an emergency Caesarean section, according to the suit.
The lawsuit alleged that the delay in performing the C-section caused the baby to suffer a permanent brain injury, resulting in cerebral palsy.
In discovery, the obstetrician claimed that the ultrasound was performed correctly and that the baby in fact did die and then returned to life. The plaintiff alleged that the ultrasound machine was not maintained properly and that no ultrasound technician was on duty to check the machine’s findings. The hospital later conceded that the machine had not been serviced in 10 years, a violation of regulations, and that no ultrasound technician was on duty.
The jury awarded damages for medical expenses, the child’s pain and suffering and the mother’s emotional distress.