People in Berks County have probably heard horror stories about doctors who wouldn't take their patients' concerns seriously, with nearly catastrophic consequences for the patients. Tennis superstar Serena Williams's bad experience after giving birth is probably the best-known example. Unfortunately, a jury here in Pennsylvania has found that doctors' refusal to take a mother's concerns seriously had deadly consequences for the mother's newborn baby.
On May 30, the jury found that two doctors and a pediatric clinic had failed to diagnose a newborn baby's whooping cough and awarded the mother $4 million. The baby had apparently developed a strange cough two days after being born, and the mother testified that she had told the doctors that she had recently returned from an area experiencing a whooping cough outbreak. Despite this, the doctors reportedly failed to diagnose the baby with whooping cough, and she died about a month later.
The doctors apparently denied that the mother had told them to check for whooping cough. The plaintiff's attorney said that the jury did not believe them, however. He said the jury also did not believe the doctors' assertions that earlier diagnosis and treatment would not have saved the baby. He said that 99 percent of babies with whooping cough do not die from it.
Of the $4 million in damages, about $1.1 million was for a claim of wrongful death and about $1.9 million was on a survival claim. When doctors fail to adhere to the minimum standard of care, resulting in death to a patient, the patient's family may have a medical malpractice claim against those doctors and other parties.