Baby Born Pre-maturely wins $4 million verdict

  1. Boy born prematurely wins $4 million verdict

    Thursday, May 01, 2003

    Associated Press

    A Beaver County jury ruled doctors misdiagnosed pregnancy complications and awarded $4.1 million to a 6-year-old boy born prematurely and suffering from developmental problems as a result.

    A Beaver County jury deliberated for two days before finding The Medical Center in Beaver and obstetrician Dr. James Crozier negligent yesterday in Randy Charles Ross' March 29, 1997, birth.

    According to court documents, the boy's mother, Catherine Ross, of Monaca, called Crozier the day before the birth and told the doctor she had pain from her waist up and was vomiting.

    According to the lawsuit, Crozier told her she was suffering from tension and told her to go to the emergency room at The Medical Center in Beaver, about 25 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

    At the hospital Ross waited for about 6 1/2 hours in the emergency room before she was diagnosed with eclampsia, or seizures caused by a rise in blood pressure that can force early delivery of the baby, sometimes endangering the lives of both mother and child.

    Doctors performed an emergency Caesarean section and the boy was born 8 1/2 weeks premature.

    Worldwide, pre-eclampsia -- a sudden increase in blood pressure in late pregnancy -- and eclampsia occur in about 10 percent of pregnant women and account for about 12 percent of pregnancy-related deaths, according to the World Health Organization. The condition is more common in developing countries.

    According to Harry Cohen, an attorney for the family, Randy eats with a feeding tube, suffers from heart and developmental problems and likely will not lead a normal life.

    "Even if he's able to get a job someday, he's only going to be able to get an entry-level job," Cohen said. "He won't be able to do anything beyond that."

    "I don't want people to think that this child hit the lottery, that he's some sort of winner ... He's going to have big problems down the road. He was hurt badly," Cohen said.

    Cohen said the award will be placed in a court-supervised trust that can only be used for the boy. His past treatment has cost $400,000 and further treatment is expected to cost $350,000, Cohen said.

    The boy's father, also named Randy Ross, declined comment last night.

    Hospital officials were disappointed by the verdict and were considering whether to appeal, said spokesman Scott Monit.

    Crozier could not be reached for comment. He joined doctors across the state this week in a walkout to protest high malpractice insurance rates. He did not return a message left at his office and did not have a listed home phone number.
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  3. by   NICU_Nurse
    OMG!!!!!!!!!! Is it even POSSIBLE that the doctor said "HYPERtension" on the phone? If so, that's NOT a misdiagnosis!!!! Furthermore, he told her to go to the ER- how is he supposed to give a fully accurate diagnosis over the freaking phone!!??? This is a problem with the TRIAGE system, not the obstetrician. The OB, according to this article, did exactly what he should have and was able to do over the telephone- direct her to the ER. COME. ON.
  4. by   BranRN
    Maybe I am missing something here, but I don't think they should have awarded 4.1 million dollars to this family. Premature babies are born every day, and I don't understand what they mean by "misdiagnosed pregnancy complications." She called the Dr. he said go to the ER, he didn't have any way to know her BP at the time. What do ya'll think?
  5. by   Nurse Ratched
    I agree. The only thing that maybe could have been done differently is if the doc could've arranged a direct admission and circumvented the ED wait, but hard to say if that would have changed the outcome. He told her to go to the hospital; what did he do wrong?
  6. by   dawngloves
    I think the ER dropped the ball. It is outrageous they had a pregnant women sit there for 6 hours without being cared for!
    It's not like the OB told her to take two Tylenol and call him in the morning!What was he supposed to do over the phone? Take her BP and dip her urine???
  7. by   Token Male
    I agree with dawngloves; Standard operating system for triage with a pregnant lady should be BP and urine sample. The mothers doctor should not be expected to diagnose over the telephone and sending her to an emergency centre was his best option; Possibly he should have short circuited the waiting time but we all have 20/20 hindsight.
  8. by   fergus51
    I'm with all of you. We are told to direct all pregnancy patients to ER if they call and ask about anything because it is supposed to protect us legally. I think this is probably a pity verdict where there was a bad outcome so the jury awards money regardless of how the patient was treated by her dr.
  9. by   ernurse728
    Didn't they take her BP in triage? In our ER pregnancy problems are a priority 2 out of 5? I agree I don't feel the OB did anything wrong!
  10. by   NicuGal
    That doesn't seem right. I've seen blantant big boo-boo's come in from other hospitals and they have never been awarded that much money!

    At our hospital any pregnant person goes right to OB, they don't even hit the triage area in ER. Runny nose, anything, goes right upstairs.

    There has to be more to this story to get a settlement like that!
  11. by   dawngloves
    Originally posted by fergus51
    I'm with all of you. We are told to direct all pregnancy patients to ER if they call and ask about anything because it is supposed to protect us legally. I think this is probably a pity verdict where there was a bad outcome so the jury awards money regardless of how the patient was treated by her dr.
    This is why the doctors have closed thier offices this week in protest of these awards that raise insurance rates in PA. OBs are running from this state in droves or retiring. This is a good argument for a pain and suffering cap.
  12. by   P_RN
    Thirty two years ago with my second child my BP surged I had ++edema, and my doc sent me to the hospital . I drove myself....sheesh. Baby was post mature and fine BTW.

    I don't see what this doctor did that was so wrong if we're getting the whole story.

    Edited to add:

    Decision assigned 10% blame to the doc 90% blame to the hospital. Doc is not available for comment because he is participating in walkout code blue to protest malpractice costs.
    Last edit by P_RN on May 1, '03
  13. by   colleen10
    sorry, forgot to mention that this took place in Beaver County, PA which is a county right outside of Pittsburgh.

    And yes, PA is a state that has yet to pass legislation capping mal-practice suits and we also have a shortage of OB/GYN's due to high insurance costs.

    I also agree, if anyone should be held libel it should be the ER. If this is the whole story I wonder why they didn't go after the ER instead.
  14. by   roxannekkb
    Of course, we don't know the full story. But as it reads, the hospital ER should be liable for ignoring the woman and the doctor acted accordingly. What was he supposed to do, rush over to her house? He told her to go to the ER, which was the right thing to do.

    When I worked for the military, a mom came into L & D at 34 weeks, saying she had "headaches." They took her blood pressure, and it was so high that it was hard to get a reading. The staff got her into bed, and then she seized. Anyway, she died and the baby was saved. Terrible story, but as it turns out, her husband said that she had been complaining of headaches and dizziness, but refused to go to the doctor and get checked. So who knows how long this woman involved in the lawsuit may have waited before finally calling her doctor. It sounds like her symptoms were pretty bad, and that normally just doesn't happen all of a sudden. She may have been having symptoms for weeks, and ignoring them. That doesn't excuse the ER for not checking her out right away, of course, but people do need to assume some responsibility for their health.
    Last edit by roxannekkb on May 1, '03