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Hospital Firm Settles Newborn Malpractice Suit For $4M

Sep 7, 2004 | The Herald Sun Durham County Hospital Corp. settled a malpractice lawsuit for $4 million Tuesday, avoiding a lengthy trial on allegations that a newborn child developed cerebral palsy and other permanent neurological ailments because of negligent medical care.

The settlement amount will be put into a trust and will provide a lifetime payout of $13 million for the injured child, Jamion Cash of Person County.

The settlement came just as the case was about to go to trial in Durham County Superior Court. Officials had predicted the proceedings would last about five weeks.

The lawsuit alleged negligence on the part of Durham County Hospital Corp., which owns Durham Regional Hospital and contracts with Duke for its operation, and three physicians: Gregory Fisher, Stephanie Rand and Christine Hale, a pediatric resident at the time.

According to the lawsuit, Jamion was born prematurely Feb. 16, 2001, and soon was noted to be jaundiced. In other words, he had a yellowish tint to his skin.

The infant was discharged two days later with no treatment for the jaundice and no scheduled follow-up appointment, the suit said.

Four days after that, he was readmitted to the hospital for decreased feeding, fever and jaundice, the suit added.

The suit said that Jamion developed kernicterus, a preventable, lifelong neurologic syndrome caused by severe jaundice.

As a result, Jamion will suffer permanently from cerebral palsy, developmental disabilities and impaired vision, speech and hearing, according to the suit.

"Durham County Hospital Corp. Inc. is liable for its own negligence in training, selecting, controlling and supervising its residents as well [as] its own negligence in developing and promulgating newborn protocols, guidelines and procedures," the suit said. It said the corporation "had the right and non-delegable duty to supervise and control the manner and method of job performance by nurses, physicians, medical students and administrators on the pediatric floor."

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