The tragic death of a 10-month-old baby, Darone Bush, has resulted in a record verdict of non-economic damages for wrongful death caused by obstetrical malpractice during labor and delivery. Beam Legal Team, LLC announced last week that a Cook County jury had ordered St. Bernard Hospital to pay the family of Darone Bush $19,025,000 for the loss due to obstetrical malpractice.
Details of the Case
Charlene Moore, Darone's mother, was given Cervidil during her labor at St. Bernard Hospital on October 17, 2016, a medicine that is harmful and inappropriate for moms who are having a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), and the results were fatal. Darone was born with significant brain injury following a dangerous labor and emergency cesarean. Moore experienced a severe loss of blood that required a stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) and recovery before she could even meet her newborn son.
“From the top down, this hospital utterly failed this family, and the jury didn’t agree with the assertion made by St. Bernard – that it’s a small, poor hospital in a small, poor community and this is the kind of care patients should expect,” said Attorney Matt Patterson of Beam Legal Team, LLC. “(The jury) sent a powerful message with this verdict: that everyone deserves appropriate, quality care, regardless of what community they’re in.”
Beam Legal Team, LLC pointed to the obstetrician who had signed a consent order for suspension by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation just three days before Darone's birth. Even with the suspension looming, Smith kept her privileges at St. Bernard and when she went to the hospital on October 17th, she never saw, examined, or spoke to Moore, her patient.
Instead, Smith called in orders for the contraindicated Cervidil – an order that nurses at St. Bernard Hospital followed without taking any precautions or consideration of Moore’s VBAC. It wasn’t until Moore was screaming in pain that another doctor, General Hood, M.D., finally came to her room and attempted to assess the situation, wasting valuable time. A third obstetrician, Jerry Mutua, M.D. finally performed an emergency cesarean, likely saving Moore’s life but not before her baby Darone was fatally injured.
Implications for Medical Care in Underserved Communities
“This case wasn’t about medical bills or future lost wages,” said Jack Beam, Attorney and Managing Partner at Beam Legal Team, LLC. “The jury had to assess, ‘What is life worth?’ Darone was a baby. He lived for 10 months, but he died because the doctors and nurses at St. Bernard violated the standard of care before he was even born.”
The verdict sent a powerful message that everyone, regardless of their community, deserves appropriate and quality care. Medical malpractice cases can be complex, and it is often challenging to prove fault. Still, this case shows that when medical professionals fail to provide appropriate care, they can be held accountable for their actions through civil lawsuits.
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