Recently in Birth Injury Category

April 15, 2014

Neonatal Encephalopathy and Neurologic Outcomes - Revised Criterea from ACOG



In 2003 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists(ACOG), along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, published Neonatal Encephalopathy and Cerebral Palsy: Defining the Pathogenesis and Pathophysiology ("NEACP"). This monograph became more commonly known as "the Green Book" and it has been roundly criticized as an attempt by its authors to use "junk science" to create hard an fast "essential" criteria to diffuse obstetrical malpractice claims against Ob/Gyns. In the more than 10 years since its publications its authors have backed off the allegedly essential nature of its core criteria and physicians have been forced to admit that factors like cord blood ph levels above 7.0 can still occur in births where the fetus experiences perinatal asphyxia that is the result of negligence.

Recently, ACOG published an update to the Green Book titled Neonatal Encephalopathy and Neurologic Outcome, Second Edition. This update changes some of the so-called "essential" criteria that expert witnesses have relied upon to defend causation in birth injury cases.

The update defines Neonatal Encephalopathy as a clinically defined syndrome of disturbed neurologic function in the earliest days of life in an infant born at or beyond 35 weeks of gestation, accompanied by early onset seizures and difficulty initiating and maintaining respiration and depression of fetal tone and reflexes. The update relaxes the criteria which obstetricians and pediatricians feel demonstrate the likelihood of peripartum or intrapartum ischemia playing a role in the pathogenesis of neonatal encephalopathy.

Specifically, the monograph identifies four essential signs and their revised values and includes, Apgar scores of less than 5 at five and ten minutes, cord blood gas pH levels of less than 7.2 (and/or a base deficit greater to or equal to 12 mmol/L), evidence of brain injury shown on MRI at a time early in the childs life (before 21 days of life) and the presence of multisystem organ failure consistent with HIE.

These revised numbers reflect the growing understanding that pH levels above 7.0 can still reflect fetal injury caused by perinatal asphyxia. This is something that we have known and understood for quite some time. It is interesting that the authors of this update have taken a more intellectually honest approach at defining the criteria they use to define asphyxia related neonatal encehalopathy and have become more inclusive in their definitions. As attorneys who routinely face defenses of birth injury cases that are based entirely on Green Book factors, these definitions, while not exactly a breath of fresh air, are a step in the right direction.

February 24, 2011

Tort Reform And The Imagined Health Care Crisis



This blog entry comes courtesy of the President of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association and was published in the February 24, 2011 edition of the Belleville News Democrat:

It is once again time to set the record straight with your editorial board. There was never a health care crisis in this state and there were no "jackpot justice conditions" that caused doctors to flee Illinois.

Your editorial board and the president of the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) have chosen to ignore important facts when it comes to medical care access in this state. Over the years, we have consistently increased the number of physicians in our state. That's right. The American Medical Association data reflects increases for each of the last 45 years. Clearly not a climate of doctors leaving Illinois or retiring early.

Funny how it used to be, for years, ISMS would falsely claim doctors were fleeing our state and that we already had a shortage of doctors because of fabricated "jackpot justice conditions." As the data has failed to support that claim, the dialogue now shifts to an attempt to create a "future crisis". In fact, a recent survey - funded in part by ISMS - clearly demonstrated oversaturation of physicians in the largest populated area of our state. That's correct - more than enough doctors in the greater Chicagoland area.

Dr. Steven Malkin, the president of ISMS, recently tried to tie a potential doctor shortage in Hillsboro, Illinois to lawsuits. He suggested lawsuits were preventing doctors from setting up practice in the Hillsboro area. What are the facts? In 2010 there was only 1 case of physician negligence filed in Hillsboro, Montgomery County, Illinois, and that's about the number each year over the last nine years according to the Court Clerk's office. Hardly, a "toxic" malpractice lawsuit environment. Additionally, the number of medical negligence cases filed in Illinois, overall, has steadily declined over the last seven years. Filings are down almost 40% since 2003.

We do agree that a portion of the 2005 law, which was struck down last year, needs to be reinstated. The insurance reforms contained in the law forced malpractice insurance companies to provide greater transparency on rate-setting and payouts, that spurred competition and motivated more companies to enter the marketplace. These measures resulted in a reduction of malpractice premiums for doctors.

Health care in Illinois doesn't improve by taking away the constitutional rights of those injured by medical negligence. It improves by providing better care, and holding those who are careless and their insurance companies accountable. True reform of the insurance industry and a reduction in medical errors is the only way to ensure a thriving healthcare system that works for every citizen of this state.

October 15, 2010

Low Apgar Score at Birth Associated with a Later Diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy



A low vitality score, better known as an Apgar score, at birth is a strong predictor of a later diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy according to a new study published on bmj.com. The authors learned that children with an Apgar score of less than 3 at birth had a 100 times more likely chance of developing cerebral palsy than those with an Apgar score of 10. The correlation between a low Apgar and cerebral palsy was highest in children with normal birth weight and modest in children with low birth weight.

The study measured these correlations in more then a half million Norwegian children born between 1986 and 1995. Of those children almost 2 in 1000 were given the diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy before they reached the age of 5.

The most important conclusion to be drawn from this data is that Cerebral Palsy is closely related to factors that also effect infant vitality, something that has been strongly suspected in medicine for years. Low Apgar scores can be indicitive of a brain injury that has occured at the time of birth.

At Goldberg & Goldberg we have been representing children with traumatic brain injuries caused at the time of birth for over forty years. If you suspect that a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice at the time of birth and that malpractice has caused a brain injury, please do not hesitate to call us for a free consultation.

July 12, 2010

Goldberg & Goldberg Secures A $1,625,000.00 Settlement In Wrongful Death Case



Goldberg & Goldberg is pleased to announce that they have settled a wrongful death case involving the death of a newborn child for $1,625,000.00. The case, Vega v. St. James Hospital, et al, involved the negligent diagnosis and management of fetal distress of mother and child during labor and delivery at St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights, Illinois in 2002. The baby survived a little over one hour before he ultimately died due to complications surrounding his resuccitation.

The defendants claimed that the child suffered from a microscopic pathologic defect which prevented him from being able to adequately perfuse oxygen in utero. The child is survived by his parents and three brothers and sisters.

March 17, 2010

Goldberg & Goldberg Secures A $5 Million Dollar Settlement For A Brain Injured Child



Lawyers at Goldberg & Goldberg secured a $5 million dollar settlement on behalf of a 22 year old man who was brain injured at birth when his labor and delivery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital was negligently managed by resident physicians. The labor and delivery was managed by residents because the plaintiff was a low income patient and in 1988 Northwestern Memorial Hospital had a policy of allowing residents manage the delivery of patients who did not have private physicians.

The plaintiff was able to file his lawsuit against Northwestern thanks to a law in Illinois that preserves the rights of brain injured people against the statutes of limitations and repose which would have ordinarily run. Goldberg & Goldberg challenged the statute of limitations law in a prior lawsuit and helped create this protection for brain injured children in a prior piece of litigation.

The settlement money in this case will be used to buy our brain injured client a handicap accesible home, electric wheelchair and a special van with a lift, among other things. He and his mother have had to do without this assistance for the past 22 years.

February 5, 2010

Illinois Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Patient On Medical Malpractice Reform



The Illinois Supreme Court in a 4-2 decision struck down limits on damages awards in medical malpractice cases with its decision in Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital on thursday. The court held that the legislation was unconstitutional. The majority opinion, authored by Justice Fitzgeral held, in part: "[W]e necessarily consider...the legislature's goal in enacting the statue-responding to a health-care crisis. Our separation of powers analysis, however, does not stop there. The crux of our analysis is whether the statue unduly infringes upon the inherent power of the judiciary. Here, the legislature's attempt to limit...damages in medical malpractice actions runs afoul of the separation of powers clause."

This is a major victory for patients and consumers in Illinois. The legislature has tried, on three seperate occasions, to enact caps on damages in medical malpractice cases. For years lobbiests for the insurance industry have argued that medical malpractice awards have contributed to the high cost of health care in Illinois despite the fact that insurace payouts on these claims have remained level for the past two decades.

All citizens of Illinois should have a right to ask a jury of their peers for redress when they have been victimized by negligence, regardless of the profession of the guilty party. To see a copy of the Supreme Courts landmark opinion look here.

December 14, 2009

Psychiatic Malpractice: Glaxo Said To Have Paid $1 Billion To Settle Paxil Lawsuits



Bloomberg News is reporting that GlaxoSmithKline has paid almost $1 Billion to settle lawsuits over the antidepressant drug Paxil since 1993. Almost $400 million of those dollars have been used to settle lawsuits over claims that Paxil users were more likely to commit or attempt to commit suicide after taking the drug. Another $200 million was used to settle claims regarding Paxil related birth defects.

To date almost 450 Paxil related suicide lawsuits have been settled by the drug manufacturer. There are an additional 600 claims outstanding claiming that Paxil caused birth defects. In October, a Philadelphia jury found the drug maker responsible for birth defects in a 3 year old boy and ordered a $2.5 million dollar award to the boy and his family.

At Goldberg & Goldberg we routinely handle drug product liability cases and have the largest drug product liability verdict in Illinois history, and award of more then $127,000,000. Please feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

December 7, 2009

Don't Get Sick On Christamas: Medical Malpractice Over The Holidays



Conventional wisdom says don't get sick over the holidays. Hospitals are understaffed, doctors are distracted and the overall quality of medical care is diminished at even the finest of institutions. Over and over again we see cases at otherwise fine Chicago area hospitals that have one thing in common. The negligence occurs over the Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's holidays. Unfortunately, we can't choose when we get sick and people certaintly need medical help over the holidays, so keep the following in mind:

Become an advocate for yourself. Hospitals run on skeleton shift over any major holiday. Do not simply assume that Doctors and Nurses are thinking about you and your condition, they are not. they are thinking about the holidays like everyone else. Remind them of critical information and ask questions. If you are not satisfied with a response make sure they explain it to you again in plain english until you understand.

Go up the Chain of Command. if you are unhappy with the care you are receiving or if you are felling neglected, ask to speak with a supervisor, the head of the department or the vice-president of nursing. Doctors are accountable to the chairman of their service as well. Demand someone pay you the proper amount of attention.

Do not accept substandard or substitute care just because it is a holiday weekend. Hospitals are required to maintain full operating staffs and are required to provide services like Ct scans and MRIs over a holiday weekend. If these things are unavailable due to a holiday staffing shortage then the hospital is required to transfer you to a facility that is operational. Do not accept the excuse that a service cannot be provided because it is a holiday weekend.

Follow this tips and advice and hopefully you holiday hospital stays will be short and uneventful.

November 12, 2009

Medical Malpractice And Tort Reform: Enough Already



Joanne Doroshow wrote an excellent article in the Monday, November 9, 2009 edition of The Huffington Post called Medical Malpractice Tort Reform - We Are Already Suffering And Don't Need More. She points out that unless you are currently living under a rock you have heard the term "tort reform" but, sadly, probably don't know what it really means.

In Illinois we have tort reform as it relates to medical malpractice. Starting in 1985, and every ten years thereafter, the state legislature has based some sort of restriction on the publics right to sue for personal injury. In the late 1990s the Illinois Supreme Court struck down these restrictions, overruling the legislature, and finding them to be unconstitutional. The legislature, bowing to pressure from the insurance industry, tried again in 2005 and passed limits on jury awards as they relate to doctors and hospitals only. That legislation is currently being reviewed for constitutionality by the Supreme Court and we expect a ruling on the issue in the near future.

The term tort reform implies that its results would be beneficial to everyone. Sadly, this is not the case. Tort reform in Illinois will only make it harder for average hard working men and women to seek redress for the harms caused to them as victims of negligence. The tort reform movement was started by and is funded by insurance companies. The same companies that have the most to gain financially by limiting jury awards.

The benefits of our current tort system are far reaching and relatively unsung. Innovations in product and medical safety, health care innovations and auto safety are some of the by products of our jury system. What motivates insurance companies? Money and the bottom line. Are they interested in protecting the little guy? Not at the expense of profits.

September 25, 2009

Actor Dennis Quaid Appeals Ruling Dismissing His Medical Malpractice Case In Chicago



The National Law Journal is reporting that the actor Dennis Quaid and his wife have filed a lawsuit in Cook County, Illinois against Deerfield based Baxter Healthcare Corp. concerning a drug overdose his children suffered at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California. The actor and his wife claim that the overdose occured, in part, due to confusing drug-labeling by the manufacturer of the drug Heparin.

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The lawsuit was filed in Chicago and dismissed by the trial court on jurisdictional grounds. The drugmaker claimed, and the trial and appellate courts have agreed, that the case would be more appropriately filed in California. The Quaids have petitioned the Illinois Supreme Court to hear the case.

The Quaid children were given 1000 times the recommended dosage of the drug Heparin while being treated at Los Angeles's Cedars-Sinai Hospital. While there have been no adverse effect from the overdoes as of yet, the Quaids are concerned about the effect of the overdose on the twins health and well-being in the future.

Goldberg & Goldberg has extensive experience prosecuting cases involving drug and prescription error, including medical malpractice and product liability cases involving the misuse of drugs. In 1991, Barry D. Goldberg obtained a $127,000,000 verdict in a drug product liability cases that is still the largest personal injury verdict in the history of the State of Illinois.

September 18, 2009

Illinois Law Protects Brain Injured Children's Right To File Lawsuits



In Illinois there is a stautue of limitations on medical malpractice claims which generally prohibits filing of a lawsuit two years from the date of malpractice or two years after the malpractice is discoverd. The statute of repose sets an outside tail date for filing such claims after four years have elapsed from the time of the initial malpractice. There are certain exceptions to this general statute of limitiations. At Goldberg & Goldberg we are proud of our work to help protect the rights of brain injured children. As an example of such work we are proud to say that due to our tireless efforts to fight for and protect brain injured children, including those suffering from cerebral palsy, the Illinois Supreme Court extended the statute of limitations for minors suffering from a brain injury indefinitely.

In Bruso v. Alexian Brothers Hospital, 178 Ill. 2d 445, 453 (1997), the Illinois Supreme Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Michael Bilandic held, that a minor who is under another legal disability, such as a brain injury, shall have the statute of limitations tolled on his claim until said legal disability is lifted. As a result, brain injured persons are protected from the statute of limitations until such a time as their disability no longer exists. This is a significant victory for consumers in Chicago, and throughout Illinois.

September 9, 2009

Jury Awards $7.3 Million In Malpractice Lawsuit



A Los Angeles jury has awarded a California family $7.3 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit concerning a hospital's failure to diagnose and treat a child suffering from meningitis. The jury unanimously awarded the five year old damages for her injury which has left her brain damaged, The defendant in the case was the neonatal intensive care unit at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center. The case is eerily reminscent of cases that Goldberg & Goldberg has litigated in the Chicago area, including The Circuit Court of Cook County.

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Meningitis is an inflamation, or infection, of the meninges which is a sheath-like protective covering over the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is dangerous because of the close proximity of the meninges to the brain and spinal cord and the risk of devastating brain injury and paralysis. Children don't often present with classic signs of meningitis, like a stiff neck. Meningitis is diagnosed by sampling the cerebrospinal fluid which can yield proof of an infection of the meninges shortly after samples are obtained.

The typical treatment for meningitis is a prompt regiment of antibiotic and antiviral medication. Left untreated, meningitis can lead to deafness, hydrocephalus, epilipsy and cognitive brain damage.

August 19, 2009

What Does Medical Malpractice Mean In Illinois



Medical malpractice refers to a medical error or omission commited by a health care provider, usually a doctor nurse or other professional, which deviates from the standard of care or practice for that professional which causes harm or injury. In Illinois, the standard of care is defined as what a reasonably well-qualified professional would do under like or similiar circumstances. If a doctor's care does not comply with the standard of care he is negligent.

In order to have an actionable medical malpractice case in Chicago, Cook County or throughout Illinois, a doctor's negligence has to cause or contribute to cause an injury. It doesn't need to be the only cause, or nearest cause, but can be any cause which in part causes an injury or harm to a patient.

Medical Malpractice is a highly technical practice area within the realm of personal injury law. Lawyers who concentrate on medical malpractice cases typically spend hundreds of thousands of dollars prosecuting their claims and often work on a contingency fee or percentage basis. Some examples of medical malpractice include obstetrical malpractice, failure to diagnose and/or treat cancer, surgical malpractice and nursing home abuse and neglect. At Goldberg & Goldberg we have represented the victims of medical malpractice for more then 40 years.

August 11, 2009

State Court Overturns Largest Malpractice Verdict Ever



The New Jersey state Supreme Court overturned that state's largest medical malpractice verdict ever, a jury award of $70 million. The reason the case was overturned was because the jury was exposed to medical professionals and the defendant hospital during the jury selection process.

In a 6-0 decision, Justice Helen Hoens wrote for the court, "In light of the relentless and unchecked litany of complaints throughout the selection process, the attorneys had no way of knowing which of the potential jurors who had expressed no bias might later find it impossible to put aside what they had heard from those who had been excused,"

The case involved a 4 month old child who was deprived of oxygen to his brain during surgery to remove a tumor at the base of his spine. The little boy now is catastrophically brain injured and has profound neurological impairment. A new trial is expected.

August 5, 2009

Finding The Right Lawyer In Chicago



Chicago is home to over 70,000 licensed attorneys. Finding a lawyer that is right for you can be a daunting task. The internet and the television airwaves are flooded with advertisements for lawyers that promise big settlements and no fees unless you win. The question you need to ask yourself and the lawyer that you interview is are you qualified, by the nature of your prior experience, to handle my case and see it through to the bitter end.

Medical Malpractice is a very expensive and specialized area of practice. Lawyers who handle medical malpractice litigation typically spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless man hours prosecuting a succesful claim. The skills necessary to be a succesful practicioner are not learned overnight. At Goldberg & Goldberg we have been in the medical malpractice business for more then forty years. The least experienced member of our firm has been handling medical cases for fifteen years. We work up and try all of our cases ourselves. We can, and routinely do, take appellate matters before the state supreme court. We have represented litigants in all manner of litigation in more then twenty different states.

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When you interview a lawyer that you have become acquainted with over the internet or through a television advertisement ask him if he handles his cases himself or refers them out to a more experienced lawyer. Ask how many medical malpractice jury trials he has taken to verdict as a first chair lawyer. Ask him or her about past results and ask to see jury verdict reports to document his experience. At Goldberg & Goldberg we have had hundreds of verdicts and settlements in excess of $1 million. We have the largest personal injury verdict in Illinois history. Our track record speaks for itself. We would be happy to show you examples of some of our results in court.