Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sued For Caring

A jury in Florida has awarded $10 million to a woman who gave birth in an ambulance and now the child has severe cerebral palsy.  The plaintiff went into premature labor at six months and went to Bert Fish Medical Center for treatment.  An ambulance was called which was supposed to transport her to one hospital but instead was diverted to the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando over fifty miles away.  The three month preemie was born fifteen minutes into the ambulance ride.  The EMT's had difficulty intubating the tiny infant and the child subsequently suffered hypoxic brain injury.

Here is my two cents worth.  It is always sad when a birth does not result in a smiling pink active baby with an APGAR of 10.  I couldn't imagine the horror the EMT's faced when this tiny baby popped out in a moving ambulance.  Experienced anesthesiologists have trouble intubating such small patients in the operating room, let alone a moving target like the inside of a speeding vehicle.  And forget about starting IV's.  How many people can say they can start a neonatal IV under the best of circumstances? 

Should the ambulance driver have turned around?  It sounds like Bert Fish Medical was not equipped to take care of extremely premature infants.  Would the ambulance company and the hospital have been sued for attempting to treat a preemie they were not capable of doing properly?  Probably.  Would the ambulance company have faced a lower judgement if the baby had died? Yes, because there is not the lifetime compensation the jury gave to the plaintiffs.  This is another case of caregivers being sued for caring.  Again, no good (medical) deed goes unpunished in this country.

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