Jury Awards $1.8 Million Verdict To Child For Birth Injury

An Oklahoma jury awarded $1.8 million to a young child and her family as the result of an injury she suffered during birth. During the 2008 delivery, Chaylee’s doctor inadvertently ripped and ruptured nerves in her left shoulder, which in essence has rendered her left arm useless. According to the attorneys representing Chaylee and her family, the doctor who delivered her made several crucial medical errors that led to the permanent injury.

The lawsuit claims that Chaylee’s delivering doctor made two critical mistakes. The doctor’s choice to utilize a vacuum delivery was, in the eyes of some, the first mistake. They believe it was unnecessary given the relatively good health of the baby in utero. The other critical error came when, during delivery, Chaylee’s shoulder became stuck behind her mother’s pelvic bone and her doctor pulled down on Chaylee’s head.

This maneuver is what caused Chaylee’s severe nerve damage and rendered her left arm useless. The attorneys theorize that her doctor panicked and pulled when she became stuck, fearing that her oxygen levels would decrease rapidly, although there was no evidence of danger to her oxygen levels. Common medical practices for such a situation dictate that the doctor should have either manipulated the mother’s legs or put pressure on the pelvic area in order to free the child.

The physical damage to Chaylee is severe and likely permanent. Her left arm will always be shorter than her right arm and, even with therapy, will probably be of little functional use to her. In addition, according to one of her attorneys, she only has “flickers of movement” in her left hand. With therapy, Chaylee can likely learn to compensate for the lack of use in her left arm by utilizing her functional right arm for most otherwise two-handed tasks. Her injury also will likely delay the advancement of the fine motor skills children develop rapidly at a young age.

Physical limitations notwithstanding, Chaylee will face a social stigma associated with an obvious deformity. According to the girl’s mother, other kids at day care are starting to notice that her daughter is different than they are. Her mother even acknowledges that Chaylee herself is starting to understand, even at three and a half years old, that she is not like most other children. One of the family’s greatest fears is how their child will be perceived and the mental strain that potentially being teased will put on a young child.

Of the $1.8 million award, $1.2 million represents past and future medical bills, as well as potential lost wages because of the injury. The remaining $600,000 was awarded for pain and suffering.

Since her birth, Chaylee has had multiple surgeries performed by doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, which aim to restore some movement in her arm by transplanting muscles, nerves and tendons. Still more surgeries are planned in an attempt to further her recovery. While Chaylee’s mother realizes that her daughter will never be completely healthy with the use of both her hands like most children her age, she is comforted to know that the jury decision held the doctor accountable for medical negligence.

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