Baby Suffers Severe Disability as a Result of Failure to Order Diagnostic Testing — Family Settles for $4.9 Million Dollars

At 19 weeks’ gestation, Mom and Dad spoke to an obstetrician. They were concerned about a family history on Mom’s side of Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD), an enzyme deficiency which affects the body’s red blood cells. The obstetrician checked Mom’s blood and determined that everything was normal. He reassured Mom and Dad that there was no cause for concern.

However, the obstetrician failed to tell the paediatrician, who was in charge of monitoring the baby after birth, that there was a pre-disposition to the deficiency. Soon after the baby was born, the paediatrician found the baby to be in good health.

On the third day of the baby’s life, the paediatrician saw the baby over a concern Mom and Dad had about Mom’s breast milk supply. The paediatrician found the baby to be jaundiced, but did not order a blood test to determine the baby’s bilirubin level as would have been appropriate had he known of Mom’s family history. On Day 7 of the baby’s life, Mom and Dad paged the paediatrician because the baby appeared to be more jaundiced and appeared lethargic. The paediatrician assured them over the phone that there was nothing to be concerned about. The paediatrician did not examine the baby physically.

On the baby’s eighth day of life, Mom and Dad noticed that the baby was even more jaundiced and lethargic than before. Mom and Dad told the paediatrician again, who told Mom and Dad to take the baby to the hospital. At the hospital, tests revealed a severe symptomatic hyperbilirubinemia. An exchange transfusion was performed, as well as an MRI which showed pigment deposition in the basal ganglia of the brain. The baby went on to develop kernicterus and neurological damage.

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