The death of Sha-asia Washington on July 3 at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn has brought the rising medical racism in New York in the spotlight. Washington, 26, died of medical malpractice after giving birth to her daughter Khloe, becoming one of the many black women who have died of complications during delivery. Washinton’s death has given rise to an urgency to tackle the prevalent racial prejudices in NYC hospitals.
A woman in Prince George’s County, Maryland, won the largest medical malpractice verdict in US history when a Baltimore judge awarded her $205 million in July 2019.
Erica Byrom sued the John Hopkins Bayview Medical Centre after complications during the birth of her daughter, which resulted in a serious brain injury to the now 5-year-old girl. The jury awarded her $229 million, but state cap reduced the awarded amount to $205 million soon after.
When people think of medical malpractice, they often only think about the doctors involved and the level of human error that they display. However, there are plenty of occasions whereby medical malpractice is caused by defective medical products and devices. Sadly, these can cause significant injury to you and/or your child during birth which isn’t always reversible.
What is Erb’s Palsy?
Erb's palsy, also known as brachial plexus palsy, is a condition whereby your baby cannot use one or both of their arms, shoulders, or hands adequately. The condition presents through the affected limbs being weak, lacking feeling, or completely paralyzed. It is caused by the collection of nerves around your baby’s shoulder being damaged during a difficult delivery.
Unlike cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy results from direct damage to these nerves as opposed to damage to your child’s brain. Because this injury occurs around the time of birth, it is considered a birth injury.
In September 2017, a Superior Court jury issued a $3 million dollar verdict against a Dover OB-GYN who was accused of causing permanent nerve damage and paralysis to a newborn’s right arm by forcefully pulling the baby out by his head during delivery.
Though the incident happened in 2008, the baby’s mother did not file a medical malpractice lawsuit until 2014 in New Castle County Superior Court, Delaware. According to court documents, Peter Wong - the OB-GYN involved in the delivery - pulled too hard on the baby’s head and neck while trying to dislodge the baby’s stuck shoulder. Monica Broughton, the child’s mother, stated that Peter Wong did not disclose the risks associated with the procedure to her beforehand.
During the trial, Peter Wong argued that he had not been medically negligent and that the baby’s injuries were as a result of the maternal forces of labor.