Nearly sixteen years after the birth of their daughter, a Leavittsburg, Ohio family was awarded $13.9 million in a medical malpractice case. The family stated the obstetrician who delivered the baby had caused their infant to suffer irreversible brain damage.
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Dr. Tara Shipman, the family’s former obstetrician/pediatrician, denied causing the child’s brain damage, saying the damage occurred roughly 10 minutes after the infant was born, due to the anesthesiologist-on-staff failing to properly resuscitate the baby.
In January, 2000, the 38-year-old pregnant Leavittsburg woman was past her due date, therefore Dr. Shipman decided to induce labor. Prior to, the womans pregnancy had been routine and uneventful. However, at some time during the night, the fetal monitoring system showed the baby’s heartbeat was slowing down, indicating fetal distress.
At that time, lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain became a concern; however Dr. Shipman chose not to perform an emergency Cesarean section, something that would have been considered standard medical procedure under the circumstances. Instead, Dr. Shipman chose to deliver the baby vaginally by using a vacuum extractor.
The baby was ultimately diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, a type of brain damage that occurs when an infants brain does not receive enough oxygen. The child suffers from cerebral palsy and cannot move without assistance. She is unable to use her arms to feed herself, and she is unable to speak. Her disabilities are permanent and cannot be reversed.
The Trumbull County, Ohio Appellate Court upheld the Ohio medical malpractice jury’s verdict in the amount of $13,902,000 in favor of the Leavittsburg family for injuries during childbirth that caused severe and permanent brain damage to the infant. The medical malpractice jury deemed the child’s brain damage was a direct result of Dr. Shipman’s failure to deliver the baby by emergency Cesarean section.