$14.2M Maryland Medical Malpractice Verdict For Child’s Profound Brain Injury During Ear Surgery
$14.2M Verdict For Child’s Profound Brain Injury: A federal judge in Maryland has awarded $14.2 million, including $11 million in future medical expenses, for the catastrophic and permanent brain injury suffered by a now six-year-old child during surgery in 2016 to place ear tubes to address recurring ear infections and to remove his adenoid glands to address breathing problems at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
The Maryland federal medical malpractice lawsuit filed pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act against the United States alleged that the child had significant underlying medical conditions at the time of his surgery, including sickle cell disease and asthma, which made his surgery more risky, leading the anesthesiologist to suggest to the surgeon that the surgery be delayed. The surgeon nonetheless chose to proceed with the surgery, which was performed by a resident under the surgeon’s supervision.
The attending surgeon did not take over the surgery from the resident surgeon despite the child’s difficulty breathing throughout the surgery and the surgery taking longer than anticipated. The child’s blood pressure dropped during surgery and his heart rate increased to dangerous levels during the surgery. The federal judge found that the anesthesiologist administered medications to address the blood pressure and heart rate issues during surgery but failed to administer the proper amounts of medications at the proper times.
The federal judge wrote in his written opinion after the 11-day bench trial, “It is beyond dispute that as a result of the cardiac arrest, Z.R. now suffers from a permanent global neurological impairment giving host to a rise of disabilities. Although he is still capable of responding to visual and auditory input, Z.R. is now largely nonverbal, immobile, and confined to a wheelchair or his bed.” The judge wrote that Z.R. requires 24-hour nursing care and is on a ventilator, requires a feeding pump, is wheelchair-bound when out of his specialized bed, and requires a mechanical lift for transfers.
Z.R.’s mother devotes many hours every week to providing care for her profoundly disabled son and she has been unable to complete her college degree and she is unable to work as a result of needing to care for her son.
Z.R.’s father is a sergeant in the United States Army. He intends to leave the army in order to attend to his son, which will result in the loss of government-provided health care benefits.
Z.R.’s life expectancy is only 21 years as a result of the injuries he sustained.
The family’s Maryland medical malpractice lawyer stated with regard to the mother’s reaction to the judge’s opinion issued earlier this month, “When she was finally able to speak she thanked God that her child finally received justice and she would now be able to take care of her child in the manner (he) needs. She has for over five years had difficulty with reliable nursing coverage provided by the government and will now have the resources to directly hire the needed full-time 24-hour nursing care that her son needs.”
Harris-Reese v. United States of America, United States District Court for the Southern District of Maryland, Case 1:19-cv-01971-TDC.
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