The federal government awarded an Army veteran and her family $15.1 million in damages to settle a lawsuit that accused Blanchfield Army Community Hospital of negligence and malpractice.
Earlier this month the federal government agreed to settle a birth injury lawsuit for more than $15 million. The suit was filed by three-year Army veteran Kelly D. Wilson on behalf of her now 15-year-old son. According to the lawsuit, when Wilson gave birth to her son at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital on Jan. 10, 2005, he “suffered a hypoxic-ischemic brain injury prior to delivery, resulting in cerebral palsy and lifelong neurological deficits.”
As a result of the brain injury, Wilson’s son is now “wheelchair-bound, non-verbal and has involuntary movements and a seizure disorder.” While discussing the matter, the family’s attorney, Gerald D. Jowers, said, “He will spend his life trapped in a body that doesn’t work…one he can’t control.” Wilson chimed in and said, “It’s heartbreaking to know I went into the hospital with a healthy son and that his injuries never should have happened.”
What happened, though? How did the injury occur? For starters, the suit alleges the incident happened because the hospital failed to “consider Wilson’s prior medical history in managing her prenatal care.” According to the suit, during Wilson’s first pregnancy she suffered from placental insufficiency, a condition where the placenta fails to provide sufficient oxygen to the fetus. As a result, she had to undergo a caesarean section for that pregnancy. Less than a year later, Wilson’s second child was born. Having the children so close together significantly increased “the risk of a failed VBAC, which is a vaginal birth after a caesarean.“
Due to that known risk factor, the suit argues the hospital should have performed a caesarean section for Wilson’s second pregnancy. If it had, the baby “would not have suffered any injuries.” Instead, she was “given standard VBAC counseling and a consent form to sign” during a 2004 OBGYN appointment at Blanchfield and chose to “attempt a VBAC because she wasn’t given the proper information and counseling” about the risks. Jowers said:
“One of the major issues in this case was this patient’s right to know her specific risks and have enough information to be able to make an intelligent decision as to whether or not a VBAC was appropriate. The doctor who she only saw one time, went point by point on a standardized form that didn’t apply to her in every respect.”
Fortunately, Judge Aleta A. Trauger of U.S. Court for the Middle District of Tennessee sided with the family and determined the hospital was at fault. As a result, the federal government awarded Wilson and her family $15.1 million in damages to help cover the cost of future medical care, lost earnings, suffering, past loss of enjoyment of life, and permanent impairment, according to the agreement.