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Philadelphia Jury Awards $1.3M in Death of Baby at St. Christopher's

A Philadelphia jury has awarded $1.3 million to the estate of a baby boy who died after complex heart surgery at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. The jury agreed that the baby’s cause of death was an excessive amount of calcium administered by the anesthesiologist.

The baby in this case was born with a condition called hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped. He underwent a complex operation when he was two days old and was initially reported to have been recovering well. Doctors, concerned that the child’s repaired heart was swollen and would not tolerate closure of the chest, waited 11 days before suturing the incision. Once the wound was closed, the child was administered 400 milligrams of calcium over the course of 30 minutes to help the heart beat more strongly. However, the baby’s heart soon stopped beating entirely, and it took doctors 13 minutes to revive the child. He passed away nine days later from a “hypercalcemic cardiac arrest,” meaning that his heart stopped beating due to elevated calcium levels. The jury voted 11-1 in favor of the plaintiff.

A review of insurance-claims data back in February revealed that 24 percent of newborn babies died after undergoing complex heart surgery at St. Christopher’s – far greater than the national average of 10 percent. A later analysis showed that these patients – newborns less than one month old – spent a much longer time in the hospital after surgery, significantly increasing their risk of complications and infections.

The hospital stopped performing nonemergency heart surgery four months ago pending an internal review. The hospital spokeswoman has declined to comment on the situation.

Tough cases like these deserve tough representation. If you are seeking a medical malpractice lawyer in Washington, DC, contact The Law Offices of Dr Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D & Associates. Schedule a free consultation to talk about your case and your rights: (202) 684-2889.