Hospital to Pay $2.4 Million Settlement in Malpractice Suit

Hospital to Pay $2.4 Million Settlement in Malpractice Suit

A $2.4 million settlement has been reached between the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and a child born with severe brain damage and cerebral palsy in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The hospital has agreed to pay almost $2.15 million to buy a lifetime annuity, yearly payment or income, for Morgan Lee who was delivered by c-section in July 2004.

The annuity will provide an income of nearly $18 million if Morgan Lee lives the average life span. Lee's mother, 19-year-old Donna Lee, will get $250,000 for her pain and suffering associated with her child's birth.

According to Donna Lee's attorneys Stan Casper and Larry Cook, the medical staff at the hospital failed to provide adequate care to Lee who had a high-risk pregnancy because of her diabetes and high blood pressure.

While hospital officials continue to defend their actions, they decided to settle to avoid a potentially larger verdict amount and more legal costs.

The lawsuit alleged that Donna Lee was sent to the hospital on July 23, 2004 to be induced into labor because her blood pressure was alarmingly high. High blood pressure can constrict blood flow to the placenta and lead to preeclampsia, a form of high blood pressure that can stress the fetus.

However, four days after Donna Lee was taken to the hospital she still hadn't given birth although she was using a medication to heighten the contraction rate. A fetal monitoring test revealed abnormal results, which indicated the baby was not getting enough oxygen. More tests showed no response from the baby at which point a doctor ordered a c-section.

Donna Lee's c-section was postponed while she was given another drug to decrease the effect of opiates, which was a decision that left medical experts baffled.

According to Casper, the doctor's decision was a waste of “precious time” and the c-section was not performed until 10 minutes after another test revealed the baby was in dire trouble.

Morgan Lee was born with severe damage to his brain cells and central nervous system. He developed cerebral palsy, a condition in which he has no control of movement. Morgan Lee is also quadriplegic and suffers from vision impairment.

“He can do nothing that you would expect a normal 2-year-old to do,” said attorney Casper. “His prognosis is very, very grim in terms of him ever getting any better.”

Casper blames the hospital for neglecting to consult with a perinatalogist who specializes in high-risk cases, despite the fact that the county of Contra Costa has a contract to receive these services.

In addition, Casper and medical experts maintain that Morgan Lee's brain damage could have been prevented had his c-section been performed two hours earlier.

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