Colorado parents may have heard of a newborn boy who remained untreated for jaundice and eventually developed serious disabilities. He was awarded $26 million in a civil lawsuit in Brooklyn in November. A jury determined that the hospital wrongly released the infant after the mother's complaints of her baby's symptoms to a doctor and to the hospital. Despite the victory in court, she would rather have a healthy son.
The boy, now 6, can't talk or use his arms and legs. The lawyer for the plaintiffs expressed his disappointment in a system that failed the child in what should have been a preventable case; the family claims that the infant's eyes were yellowing when he was discharged from the medical facility. While many newborns suffer from jaundice, if the malady is ignored, it might cause severe complications. Instead, the hospital's failure to diagnose and properly address the jaundice resulted in a life-threatening condition.
Left untreated, the infant began vomiting. His parents took him to another medical facility where he was determined to have hyperbilirubinemia, which is severe jaundice that can lead to permanent brain damage and cerebral palsy. Although medical professionals saved the baby's life, they couldn't stop the damage that was already done.
When the award was granted by the jury, the hospital countered that they did nothing wrong and planned to appeal the decision, although officials expressed their sympathy to the family's situation. Because jaundice is quite common, affecting approximately half of all newborns, it might be argued that the hospital should have recognized the signs of a severe case. If higher courts uphold the award, the family will be able to give their child the 24-hour-a-day care that he needs.
Source: New York Daily News, "Disabled Brooklyn boy awarded $25 million in untreated jaundice case against New York Methodist Hospital", Doyle Murphy, November 19, 2013