Medical malpractice verdict upheld for 8-year-old quadriplegic02-Dec-2011
If doctors had treated the infection that developed shortly after Christian Arroyo was born, his whole life would have been different, a federal appeals court ruled — agreeing with his parents.
Christian developed a fairly common neonatal blood infection that doctors and nurses at a federal government-funded clinic left untreated more than 12 hours — leading to irreversible brain damage — Christian’s parents charged in their federal lawsuit, Arroyo v. United States.
They won the medical malpractice suit against the Erie Family Health Center last year, when a federal judge here ruled the government-employed doctors were negligent in their care of Christian, and awarded the now eight-year-old quadriplegic $29.1 million. The government appealed.
But on Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the 2010 verdict.
“At one point or another, he pretty much had almost every sign of the infection; at one point, the baby was not even able to see, which was a really bad sign,” said Christian’s attorney, Patrick Salvi II. “This was malpractice, there’s no question about it.”
The government had appealed on the grounds the suit was untimely because Arroyo’s parents waited two years to file a claim. But the appeals court rejected the government’s argument.
Since the doctors never informed the Arroyos that the brain damage could have been avoided with the use of antibiotics, the Arroyos were not at fault, the Arroyos’ attorney said.
“[The doctors] made no mention of the possibility of antibiotics,” Salvi said. “If you don’t want to tell patients you could have done [something] to help them, you can’t come back and say they should have known to sue.”
When Christian was born in 2003, the Arroyos didn’t realize the doctors at Erie had done anything wrong, their attorney said. But when their second son was born a year later and immediately treated with the antibiotics, the parents became suspicious, he said.
Christian, a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, is a happy second grader who loves music and his family, but requires a lot of care, said his father Carlos Arroyo, 30.
“It’s hard, because there’s a limit to what we can do with him,” the father said. “I’m glad . . . because my son is going to get all the care he needs for the rest of his life, and that’s all we care about.”
BY ARIEL CHEUNG Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org September 2, 2011 7:52PM Chicago Sun Times