A three-year-old boy, who suffered catastrophic brain injuries when his birth was delayed due to an “outdated, insensitive, and poorly maintained” ultrasound machine, has been awarded 78.5 million dollars in compensation for quadriplegic birth injury by a jury in Philadelphia.
The Honourable Mark Bernstein and the jury at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas heard how the Victoria Upsey (36) from Pottstown, Philadelphia, had attended the Pottstown Memorial Medical Centre in August 2008 displaying signs of a placental abruption when 36 weeks pregnant.
A foetal scan conducted on her admission proved inconclusive and, as it was a Sunday and the ultrasound technician was off work, the consultant obstetrician conducted an ultrasound test from which he concluded that the baby had died.
However, when the ultrasound technician was called in from home to check the obstetrician´s finding, a heartbeat was detected – at which point an emergency Caesarean operation was scheduled and Victoria´s child was delivered.
Due to the delay caused by the obstetrician´s misdiagnosis and the oxygen deprivation suffered while still in the womb, the baby was born with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and will require a life time of care.
After taking legal advice, Victoria made a claim for quadriplegic birth injury compensation against the obstetrician, but in the discovery process prior to the court case, it was the ultrasound machine which was found liable for his error.
When questioned by Victoria´s lawyers, the hospital’s risk manager admitted there was no evidence the ultrasound equipment had been serviced for more than 10 years; whereas the manual indicated that annual maintenance was necessary.
The lawyers argued in court that it was effectively hospital administration negligence which was responsible for the devastating injuries sustained during the child´s birth and, after a period of deliberation, the jury at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas agreed with them.
Finding the hospital guilty of administrative negligence resulting in injury, the jury awarded the Upsey family a total of 78.5 million dollars in compensation for quadriplegic birth injury to account for the suffering of the child, the costs of his future care, prospective loss of earnings and to compensate Victoria for the emotional trauma she had experienced.