Obstetrics: Appeals Court Upholds Defense Verdict in Cerebral Palsy Case

February 1, 2011 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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​An Arkansas jury's verdict finding the defendants, a hospital and an obstetrician, not liable for a brain injury that occurred during birth and resulted in a child's cerebral palsy has been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The plaintiffs alleged negligent use of oxytocin and failure to timely deliver the infant by cesarean section.

The plaintiffs appealed the verdict, claiming that they had not received a fair trial because the trial court made several errors. Among the grounds for appeal was that the trial court allowed the defense to use a provision of Arkansas law, later declared unconstitutional, that prevented the jury from hearing about the costs of the child's future treatment. The plaintiffs also challenged the constitutionality of a provision of an Arkansas rule of civil procedure that prevents trial testimony by a defendant physician against him- or herself on matters relating to the standard of care that he or she was required to follow and on matters of whether the physician's alleged wrongful conduct was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries. The trial court also refused to allow the jury to hear expert opinion testimony from a nurse who had been retained by the plaintiff, finding that...

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