A Philadelphia court of common pleas jury on Friday awarded $78.5 million to a woman whose 3-year-old son suffers from cerebral palsy because of what the jury found were faulty diagnostic procedures by Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, where the child was delivered.
Lawyers for the woman, 34-year-old Victoria Upsey, said she arrived at the hospital in August 2008 with signs of complications that caused her unborn child to be deprived of oxygen. Their experts contended during the trial that a prompt delivery could have averted the problem, but that the physician handling the case initially concluded that the baby already had died after performing an ultrasound. When the ultrasound was performed again a short time later by other hospital staff, a fetal heartbeat was detected, and an emergency cesarean section conducted.
Upsey's lawyer, Daniel Weinstock, contended that the 81-minute delay caused the condition of the fetus to deteriorate, resulting in cerebral palsy. Had the hospital provided a trained ultrasound technician and not used antiquated equipment the delay would have been averted, Weinstock said.
The jury found that the doctor was not responsible, blaming what happened on the hospital.
The medical center did not return calls for comment Friday.
"Birth injury cases are always emotional matters, but the facts of this case were particularly shocking because the reason this delivery was delayed was that the obstetrician thought the baby was dead," Weinstock said.
The verdict includes payments for future medical care of the child, lost earnings, pain and suffering for the baby, and emotional distress for Upsey, a single mother, Weinstock's firm said.