On September 24, 2021, a Maryland medical malpractice jury awarded the parents of a stillborn child $1.5 million after five days of trial and two days of jury deliberations. The portion of the Maryland birth injury jury’s verdict for noneconomic damages will be reduced to $943,750, pursuant to Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages in wrongful death claims arising from medical malpractice. The jury also awarded $2,364 for funeral expenses.
The Underlying Facts
The parents alleged in their Maryland stillborn medical malpractice case that on July 19, 2015, the pregnant plaintiff arrived at the local hospital at full term and in active labor, shortly after midnight. About four hours after her arrival, she was given oxytocin to aid in delivery of her baby. At 9:10 a.m., fetal monitoring indicated that the baby’s heart rate was elevated at 160 beats per minute. Despite this disturbing finding, the defendant OB/GYN decided to not perform a Cesarean delivery at that time. The woman was not brought to the operating room for an emergency Cesarean section delivery until shortly before 2 p.m. The baby was stillborn at the time of delivery and despite resuscitation efforts, the baby could not be revived.
The primary medical issue argued before the jury by the parties was whether the standard of care required the defendant OB/GYN to deliver the baby earlier, after the baby’s accelerated heart rate was detected.
In Maryland, a health care provider is not liable for the payment of damages unless it is established that the care given by the health care provider is not in accordance with the standards of practice among members of the same health care profession with similar training and experience situated in the same or similar communities at the time of the alleged act giving rise to the cause of action. With regard to required medical expert opinions in Maryland medical malpractice cases, a health care provider who attests in a certificate of a qualified expert or testifies in relation to a proceeding before a panel or court concerning a defendant’s compliance with or departure from standards of care must have had clinical experience, provided consultation relating to clinical practice, or taught medicine in the defendant’s specialty or a related field of health care, or in the field of health care in which the defendant provided care or treatment to the plaintiff, within 5 years of the date of the alleged act or omission giving rise to the cause of action; and if the defendant is board certified in a specialty, must be board certified in the same or a related specialty as the defendant, except if the defendant was providing care or treatment to the plaintiff unrelated to the area in which the defendant is board certified or the health care provider taught medicine in the defendant’s specialty or a related field of health care. Annotated Code of Maryland, Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, § 3-2A-02.
If you or your baby suffered a birth injury (or worse) during labor and/or delivery in Maryland or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a birth injury lawyer in Maryland or in your state who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you and your child in a birth injury medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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