The Texas state legislators passed a law limiting the liability amounts that a doctor can be sued. I don't know when this law was passed--I never paid much attention to it. I do know I felt it was good to help keep malpractice rates down for these doctors. I do know that I thought this would help to stop frivolous lawsuits. What I didn't think about was how it would hurt those who deserved a bit of justice (not the word I'm looking for but close).
My nephew Ryan was born a couple of days before his scheduled Csection. My sister went into labor on an early Saturday morning in August of 2005. He weighed the same as my Pumpkin and we were all so excited. I couldn't wait to meet this little guy. When I went to visit that morning, he was trying to nurse, but wouldn't because he was grunting. We thought he was just being fussy. It turned out he was having difficulty breathing. I will never forget that sound. He had contracted Group B Strep. He had to be taken to the Children's Hospital immediately. The sight of that big huge gurney, and then the ambulance is burned into my memory. My poor sister couldn't even go with her baby because she was recovering from the surgery. The infection turned into sepsis and Ryan was holding on precariously to life.
He did survive. He spent a month in the NICU but has been doing well except for some asthma.
Or so we thought. Our family firmly believes this could have been averted. There were many mistakes made by the ob/gyn practice and by the nurses at the birthing center. My sister had tested positive for Group B Strep. It was not noted in her files. She told the nurse who was checking her in. Still, they did not give her antibiotics. That's all I'll say about that. After much consideration, my sister and her husband decided to pursue a lawsuit so that Ryan would be provided for in case there are repercussions that are not apparent. The attorney's office called yesterday to tell them that they would not take the case. It's not because they don't have a valid case. It's because it costs too much to take it to trial. They would have to hire too many experts. No one would make any money. This is all because there's a cap to the amount you can sue for.
It gets worse. The pediatric neurologist hired to look into this case has discovered that Ryan has moderate brain damage. Not mild, but moderate. I spoke with a doctor friend and he said that when you contract sepsis, your blood pressures drops. That means that the blood does not get to all the tissue. A lack of blood supply means a lack of oxygen to organs. This can be bad for the brain, kidneys and heart. For the babies, the brains are deeply affected.
Some of the problems Ryan may encounter are speech delays and cerebral palsy. So far, he hasn't had any symptoms of cerebral palsy, but it can show up between age 2 and 6.
I'm sad for what my sister is going through. I'm weepy just writing about it. I can't imagine what she feels. I know she's angry. She wants desperately to go into that ob's office and tell everyone what a terrible practice it is, but she knows it will do no good.
I can only be a support for her. And, I can pray. I can pray for peace for her and her husband. I can pray for peace for my parents who are devastated. I can pray for Ryan. He needs it more than all of us.