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Grieving parents awarded $1.25M in medical malpractice claim

Some Louisiana parents know firsthand that it can be frightening when a baby is born prematurely. However, with the advances in neonatal care, premature babies have a much better chance of survival than in the past. Unfortunately, though, mistakes still occur, sometimes resulting in medical malpractice claims.

An out-of-state couple recently received an award of $1.25 million as the result of a medical malpractice claim against a radiology company and the estate of the radiologist the parents believed to be responsible for their premature daughter's death. Their daughter was born on June 4, 2009. She was healthy at 34 weeks. However, it was necessary to install an umbilical catheter to feed her with while she was in the hospital.

As a precaution, X-rays were taken to ensure the catheter was properly inserted. Even though the X-ray showed that the catheter was not in the proper position -- in fact, the tip ended up in the baby's heart -- the deceased Michigan radiologist failed to indicate this in his report. Three days later, on June 7, 2009, the baby died. An autopsy of the infant showed fluid in the heart and collapsed lungs. Her parents claim that if the radiologist had noted that the catheter was in the heart, it would have been re-positioned, and she would not have died.

The jury would not go so far as to say the radiologist directly caused their daughter's death, but they did find that he was negligent. It is not necessary for a party to be the direct cause of a death or serious injury in order for that party to be found guilty of medical malpractice. All Louisiana medical professionals have a duty to the patients in their care. In this case, the radiologist may not have inserted the catheter incorrectly, but he did have information that may have saved her life. In not reporting what he saw on the X-rays, he breached his duty to the infant and her parents.

Source: mlive.com, "Grand Rapids couple awarded $1.25 million in malpractice suit after infant daughter's death", Heidi Fenton, March 27, 2014