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Parents successfully settle brain damage suit with hospital

An out of state family recently settled an ongoing medical malpractice dispute concerning the alleged botched delivery of their son. The medical malpractice suit focused on the boy's brain damage, which was later diagnosed as cerebral palsy, a devastating injury with which far too many parents in New Jersey are already familiar. The exact amount of the settlement, though, has not been disclosed.

The boy was delivered via water birth, an option that the delivering hospital began offering in 2014. Water births, in which women labor and give birth in small pools filled with warm water, have grown in popularity over recent years. However, water birth is not without its risks, and the family claims that the hospital never provided them with any information concerning those potential risks.

It is unclear exactly what transpired during the water birth that led to the boy's brain injury, but in their suit, the parents claim that he was deprived of oxygen for a significant amount of time. The suit also demanded that the hospital stop touting the alleged benefits of giving birth with water, and indeed that they stop offering water births altogether. While the details of the settlement are still mostly under wraps, the hospital apparently still offers this option to pregnant women.

Oxygen deprivation is a serious concern during delivery, and most laboring women in New Jersey are closely monitored to ensure the safety of their soon-to-be-born child. Any breakdown in this process or complete failure to adequately monitor in the first place can have disastrous results, including brain damage, cerebral palsy and even the child's death. The vast majority of parents understand that financial compensation cannot atone for the damage done to their child, but they know that the resulting recourse from a medical malpractice claim can be the key to providing the best care and treatment possible.

Source: bizjournals.com, "Legacy settles 'water births' lawsuit with Portland parents", Elizabeth Hayes, Jan. 8, 2016

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Alan D. Bell
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