Parents of children born with heart defects or other life threatening illnesses are often very cautious about medicines they give their children. After undergoing countless hours in the hospital, no one in Massachusetts or anywhere else wants to unnecessarily return to a medical center due to a negative drug interaction. But that is exactly what happened to one family whose 4-year old suffered heart failure and a brain injury upon receiving improper medical advice from a doctor.

The child was born in 2004 with a heart defect, and she received a heart transplant as a baby. In 2008, the girl was suffering from a cold, and her mother contacted the hospital’s cardiology department for advice. A miscommunication between doctors resulted in a prescription for a nasal spray which caused the little girl to obtain insufficient oxygen, go into cardiac arrest, and suffer a traumatic brain injury.

The hospital has been ordered to pay the family the sum of $15.2 million after a judge determined that the doctors provided negligent advice to the girl’s mother. When the judgment was announced, the mother explained that the money will provide the child with important long-term care. Doctors expect that the little girl will require 24-hour a day nursing because she can no longer swallow, walk or talk.

For families who watch a loved one suffer a traumatic brain injury due to physician error, the medical expenses and pain and suffering can be overwhelming.  While a civil lawsuit for medical malpractice cannot change what happened, it can help take care of the injured person’s needs.

Source: Insurance Journal, “University of Washington to Pay $15M After Medical Mistake”, July 16, 2013