The ABCs of First-Aid Translate into the ABCs of a Recovery for a Cerebral Palsy Baby

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The Atlee Hall team successfully achieved a significant settlement on behalf of a minor child with cerebral palsy. The child was the product of a 40-week pregnancy, demonstrating no signs of any abnormalities. The child was born with all indications the child’s health was perfectly normal. In the hours immediately after the child’s birth, her pediatrician and the attending nurses failed to remember the ABC’s of first-aid; Airway, Breathing, Circulation.

Although the child’s airway was fine, her breathing was labored, resulting in the child registering abnormally low oxygen saturation. The attending pediatrician ordered and read a chest x-ray as “normal”. In fact, the x-ray was abnormal and demonstrated that the child had a tension pneumothorax in her left chest and pneumothorax in her right. These conditions are readily corrected by the insertion of a chest tube, but the hospital had no one available qualified to perform that minor, at bedside procedure. Unfortunately, by the time the child’s condition was corrected, she had sustained profound brain damage resulting in cognitive and physical disabilities.

The defense obtained a blood sample from the child and submitted it for genetic testing. The defense argued that the result of that testing showed the child was born with a new genetic syndrome that was the cause of her disabilities.

The attorneys at Atlee Hall thoroughly researched the new genetic syndrome and were able to argue that having this genetic abnormality does not always result in any, let alone all of the clinical issues documented for this plaintiff. Thus, there was insufficient proof to establish that the child’s genetic makeup was the cause of her disabilities.

The medical research was presented at mediation, along with reminders that under Pennsylvania law, the defendant takes the plaintiff as they find her, and if there are concurrent causes of an injury (hypoxia because of failure to relieve the child’s tension pneumothorax, plus a genetic component) the tortfeasor is responsible for all damages.

The settlement proceeds should be sufficient to take care of this unfortunate child for the rest of her life.