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Medical Verdicts

Athetoid quadriplegia, deafness follow bloody discharge in newborn

November 2003 · Vol. 15, No. 11
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<court>Undisclosed County (Calif) Superior Court</court>

Six hours after the birth of a seemingly healthy baby girl, hospital nurses discovered blood in the infant’s diaper. The child’s next several diapers also exhibited bloody discharge.

A nurse informed the parents that the baby was experiencing pseudomenses because of hormone withdrawal, and assured them that the problem would resolve itself within 24 to 48 hours.

Eighteen hours later, after another bloody diaper was discovered, a pediatrician was finally called. The physician ordered several lab tests. Results revealed a total bilirubin of 40.

The child was diagnosed with hemolytic hyperbilirubinemia and transferred to a tertiary neonatal center where she underwent several blood transfusions. She now suffers from spastic athetoid quadriplegia with profound deafness.

In suing, the child argued that had a bilirubin test been performed immediately, a timely diagnosis would have been made.

The nurses contended that only small blood spots were present on the diaper, which is common in newborn females and typical of pseudomenses. Further, the hospital maintained that earlier diagnosis would not have prevented the child’s injuries.

  • The case settled for $5.5 million.

The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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