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Medical malpractice: $17.8 million judgment for medication error

One of the biggest fears most people in California and other states have for their unborn or newborn babies is the presence of abnormalities or conditions that are present or are caused at birth. Unfortunately, congenital diseases are not uncommon, and when such a condition is present at birth, the appropriate treatment immediately after birth is vital. A medication error or doctor’s mistake at that stage could adversely affect the child for the remainder of his or her life.

The family of a little girl who is now 7 years old was recently awarded $17.8 million when a court in another state ruled against a children’s hospital. It followed a medication error that occurred when she was only 4 days old. The baby was born in Feb. 2008 and was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect that required surgery. It was alleged that, during preparation for the surgical procedure, an incorrect dose of prostaglandin was administered.

This apparently caused the child to suffer cardiac arrest, and she was only resuscitated after 33 minutes. The oxygen deprivation apparently caused brain injuries that left the child with cerebral palsy. In addition, she is now suffering substantial physical, cognitive and intellectual impairments. Because of this medication error, the girl will require full-time care for the remainder of her life, and her parents will have to cope with the associated medical and other expenses.

Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and loss of life enjoyment after a medication error or other form of medical malpractice are typically capped by state laws. Of the $17.8 million judgment in this Colorado case, approximately $1 million was awarded for non-economic damages. The medical malpractice cap for non-economic damages in California is set at $250,000. Expenses for health and medical care and future income loss — which were calculated for the next 75 years in this case — are not capped and will be available for the care of the child for life.

Source:, “Jury awards Colorado Springs family $17.8 million over daughter’s hospital treatment“, Jakob Rogers, April 4, 2015