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Large settlement approved in brain injury case

Patricia M. Jarzobski

When an individual is injured in a surgical procedure, it can be difficult to know how to address issues of legal recourse. Colorado families are often overwhelmed with adjusting to the new realities of life brought on by a serious brain injury, and have little energy or emotional fortitude left over to tackle their legal needs. However, in many cases brain-injured individuals have a lifetime of medical needs, and addressing the legal ramifications of a medical mistake can help the family to meet those needs.

One such case has made national headlines, and appears to be moving toward a sizable settlement. The case involves a toddler who went into surgery to address an undescended testicle. Following the surgical procedure, the child was recovering when his heart stopped.

The claim made against the hospital by the family of the boy asserts that medical professionals at the hospital did not begin CPR until five minutes after the boy's heart stopped beating. It is estimated that he was without a pulse for a period of 15 minutes. Oxygen deprivation sustained during this timeframe led to permanent brain injury.

County commissioners, upon reviewing the details of the case, recently approved a settlement to the family in the amount of $20 million. There is no word on whether the family will accept that amount, which is said to be one of the highest in the county's history. The family, should they decide to accept the settlement, could use that money to cover the cost of the child's medical treatment and address any continuing care needs. For Colorado families who are considering similar brain injury litigation, the details of this case may provide hope for a positive outcome in their own circumstances.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "$20 million settlement in Stroger Hospital surgery case," John Byrne, Feb. 5, 2013

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