Attorneys Daniel S. Weinstock, G. Scott Vezina, and Carolyn M. Chopko obtained a $5.3 million recovery in a case in rural Florida involving failure of the pediatric team to timely transfer the baby to a regional hospital where she could receive body cooling therapy in order to minimize the impact of her birth injury. Feldman Shepherd is unaware of any previous cases in the country where a recovery has been made in a case involving negligent failure to perform body cooling.
The baby was born significantly depressed, at a woefully underinsured birthing center in rural Florida. She was immediately transported to a local hospital that had a pediatrician on staff but no neonatologist and no ability to perform body cooling therapy. According to his testimony, the pediatrician in charge of the baby’s care was generally aware of body cooling therapy but at the time was under the impression that it was a new and experimental treatment. Accordingly, he waited overnight before having the depressed baby transported to a regional hospital that was capable of providing a higher level of care. Unfortunately, body cooling therapy must be initiated within a few hours of birth, and the pediatrician’s failure to order the transport immediately deprived this baby of an opportunity to receive this treatment.
Body cooling was considered investigational in its early stages, but by the late 2000s, its benefits had been fairly conclusively established in reducing and even preventing permanent brain injury to term newborns suffering from severe acute birth asphyxia. This child, born in 2014, was absolutely a candidate for this therapy that had become fairly standard by the time she was born. Attorneys Weinstock, Vezina, and Chopko put together a compelling argument that the failure to transfer her to a regional hospital early enough to receive this therapy was negligent and significantly contributed to her outcome of cerebral palsy.