In what is believed to be one of the largest jury verdicts in a medical malpractice lawsuit, a Baltimore jury has awarded $229 million in damages to a mother and daughter, after birth injuries resulted in cerebral palsy.
The verdict came in a Baltimore malpractice lawsuit filed by Erica Byrom, on behalf of herself and her daughter, Zubida, which resulted in the record-setting verdict against Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center for brain damage that resulted from misdiagnosis of preeclampsia during labor and delivery.
Byrom was 25 weeks pregnant when admitted to Hopkins Bayview in October 2014, showing signs of severe preeclampsia. However, doctors told her that Zubida was viable outside of the womb, but that the baby would die or be severely brain damaged if she underwent a cesarean section delivery. Byrom indicates she declined a C-section procedure based on the doctors’ recommendations.
According to allegations raised at trial, those recommendations were incorrect, and because she did not have a c-section delivery, Zubida suffered oxygen deprivation, which led to brain damage and cerebral palsy that require medical attention for the rest of her life.
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that may be attributed to brain damage suffered before, during or shortly after birth. If the child’s brain is deprived of oxygen around the time of birth, it can result in irreversible damage that leaves the child with developmental problems, loss of motor functions and other life-long injuries and disabilities.
Following a two-week trial, the jury awarded Byrom and her daughter $229.6 million. However, Maryland state laws, which cap malpractice verdicts and override a jury’s decisions, will likely reduce the jury award to about $200 million, which still may be the largest medical malpractice verdict in the nation’s history. At trial, Byrom was represented by the Baltimore law firm Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt, LLC.
Preeclampsia is pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. It can lead to seizures and strokes and is often preceded by high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease. It is the leading cause of pregnancy-related complications and pregnancy-related death worldwide.
Despite the prevalence of preeclampsia, U.S. hospitals are often unprepared to treat the condition. In fact, more women die during or right after childbirth due to preeclampsia in the U.S. than any other developed country. More than 60% of those deaths are preventable, health experts say.
Preeclampsia is common in the United States, but research indicates simple interventions can help prevent preeclampsia deaths. Measures like proper and thorough in-take to assess risks at check-in, blood loss monitoring, and weighing bloody pads can all help prevent unnecessary deaths.
Other prevention measures include recognizing warning signs of hypertension, hemorrhage, providing necessary medication during crucial time frames, and keeping medical carts stocked with needed supplies to stop hemorrhages.