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New trial denied in malpractice case involving infant death

The judge in a $6.2 million medical malpractice case has refused the defendant doctor’s request to set aside the jury’s decision or order a new trial. The jury had found following trial that the doctor’smedical negligence caused the death of a 2-month-old infant in 2010. It remains to be seen if the doctor will appeal the verdict.

The defendant was working as an emergency room physician when the infant’s parents brought him to the hospital with breathing problems. Evidence at trial suggested that the baby was suffering from bronchiolitis, a respiratory tract infection that is common among infants.

The doctor decided to perform a tracheal intubation to ease the infant’s breathing. But he botched the intubation and actually blocked the boy’s remaining airway space. The doctor left the room as the infant was suffocating to death and made no effort to save him, according to testimony from trial.

The jury returned a verdict ordering the doctor to pay $3 million. The hospital was ordered to pay $3.2 million. Following trial, defense attorneys asked the judge to either set aside the jury decision and impose his own verdict or order a new trial.

The judge declined to do either. He ruled after a July 31 hearing on the matter that the decision was reasonable and ordered the defendants to pay the verdict in full. He imposed an interest rate of 12 percent per year, going back to May 10, until they complete payment.

Perhaps nothing is more tragic than the death of a child. It is only worse when the death could have been prevented by competent medical care.

Source: The Independent, “New trial denied in medical malpractice case,” Kenneth Hart, July 31, 2013

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