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Medical malpractice cited in death of infant

A jury recently ruled in favor of the parents of an infant girl who died due to a misread X-ray in 2009. The jury concluded that a radiology company and an employee's medical malpractice contributed to her death. The parents were recently awarded $1.25 million as a result of the devastating error.

The infant, weighing in at five pounds, was born prematurely at 34 weeks. The parents reported that she had no birth injuries and was doing well in the hospital.

An umbilical venous catheter was used to feed the newborn in intensive care. Following standard practice, technicians took an X-ray to confirm that the catheter was in the correct position. However, the tip of a feeding catheter had erroneously been placed in her heart. Although the placement of the medical device was visible in the X-ray the radiologist negligently failed to note or report the problem.

Medical professional negligence turned into a fatal medical error as the misplaced catheter directed fluids to the sensitive area around the newborn's heart. After three days of this misdirected feeding, the infant suffered a fatal heart attack.

The family sued the radiology company and the medical professional who made the error, alleging that the radiologist should have brought attention to the improper placement of the medical device. If the catheter had been repositioned, they argued, their child would have survived.

Although the jury did not find that the medical professional's error bore direct responsibility for the death of the infant, they did agree that his negligence contributed to the wrongful death.

After the verdict, the family's lawyers reached a settlement agreement with the radiology company, avoiding further litigation. Montana residents can look at this case as a reminder of the importance of legal advice when taking on a medical malpractice case.

Source: Mlive.com, "Grand Rapids couple awarded $1.25 million in malpractice suit after infant daughter's death," Heidi Fenton, March 27, 2014

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