In 2010, a woman who had planned a home childbirth ended up at Johns Hopkins Hospital for an emergency C-section. At some point during the delivery, the baby was denied enough oxygen to cause severe and permanent damage. At the end of a jury trial, the hospital was found negligent and the family was given a record-breaking malpractice award.
The woman had labored at home first with the assistance of a certified nurse mid-wife. After about half a day of labor, the mid-wife found the baby was stuck and in distress so the family drove to Johns Hopkins.
The mother was at the hospital for two hours before a C-section was performed. The child, who was two at the time of the trial, sadly has cerebral palsy and seizure disorder and cannot speak or sit up on his own.
Johns Hopkins announced it intends to appeal the jury verdict of $55 million. Due to a damages cap in Maryland, if the verdict stands, the family will receive $30 million, which will be kept in trust for the child’s care.
Johns Hopkins has defended its actions, saying “the medical care provided to Ms. Fielding by Hopkins was entirely appropriate given the circumstances.”
It may be that there is no way to prove at what point the oxygen deprivation occurred. What hurt Hopkins apparently was the two-hour delay for the C-Section. Expert testimony given at trial suggested that the C-section should have been performed within 30-40 minutes.