A Chicago family has been awarded an unprecedented settlement in the amount of $53 million twelve years after negligent healthcare resulted in birth injuries to an infant showing symptoms of fetal distress. The lawsuit alleged that medical staff employed by the University of Chicago ignored the child’s mother for hours even though she was in desperate need of an emergency C-section. Twelve years later, the child is unable to walk or speak and will suffer from neurological impairment for the rest of his life.
A Routine Birth Gone Disastrously Wrong
Lisa Ewing was under the illusion that she was receiving the best care available and that her child’s birth was proceeding exactly as planned. While in labor, however, she went for extended period without any supervision or follow up by nurses or doctors. It was during this time that it is alleged her child went into fetal distress.
Fetal distress can result in severe injuries to an infant’s brain if the child’s brain is deprived of oxygen and other key nutrients. In the lawsuit, Ewing’s lawyer claimed that her child was allowed to remain in distress for over twelve hours. When describing the hospital’s response to the situation, he used the word “arrogant” to best describe the attitude of the University of Chicago Hospital staff members.
It is alleged that the hospital administration refused to provide Ewing with a reasonable explanation for the quality of care she received and for the injuries her son suffered. In addition, the hospital refused to provide an apology or to assume responsibility for the negligent actions of its staff members.
Son Born with Defects that Will Last a Lifetime
Isaiah Ewing was born on April 20, 2004 with severe brain damage. At twelve years old, he is unable to speak or walk and may remain physically and mentally impaired for the rest of his life. His prognosis includes a shortened life span, which is common in children suffering from neurological disorders. Despite allegations of care by Lisa Ewing, the hospital claims that the child suffered these injuries due to an infection and not oxygen deprivation following 12 hours of fetal distress.
The jury ruled that the primary cause of the child’s injuries was the limited follow up provided by nurses and doctors, who allowed Ewing to remain under limited supervision for almost half a day. If staff had been more attentive and checked up on her regularly, they would have detected signs of fetal distress and ordered emergency action. Lisa Ewing alleged that during the trial, the hospital told blatant lies about the quality of care provided and lacked integrity in its dealings with her during and following the birth of her disabled child.
Jury Verdict to be Challenged in Appeal
A jury awarded the Ewing $53 million for the payment of past and future medical expenses and for the loss of opportunity, lowered quality of life and a shortened lifespan. The University of Chicago Hospital was quick to appeal the decision, however. It claims that the child is suffering from cerebral palsy due to an infection contracted during Lisa’s pregnancy and not due to oxygen deprivation. It also claims that the jury was influenced by improper conduct on part of Ewing’s lawyer throughout the proceedings.
Although the jury found the University of Chicago Hospital liable, the judge presiding over the matter did not enter judgment on the case. Further proceedings will decide whether the case will result in a judgement in favor of the Ewing family.