Unlike in many other states, Oregon does not impose a limit or cap on damages in a medical malpractice case. That is a pro-consumer rule that follows the traditional concept that one is entitled to be made economically whole when seriously injured due to someone's negligence. Where a newborn baby suffers a serious birth injury that includes substantial brain injury, a damages cap may work a considerable hardship on the child and on the parents who will remain responsible for the massive expenditures of time and money that will be incurred in the future.

In a settlement in another state recently, a hospital will pay $9 million in damages to a child who was born with brain damage and cerebral palsy. The mother's complaint alleged that the defendant medical center was negligent because its doctor treated the mother improperly when the mother arrived at the hospital on Sept. 7, 2010. The staff allegedly was well versed in the mother's health difficulties, including her high risk of uterine rupture.

When the mother, who was pregnant, arrived at the Tripler Army Medical Center, she was seen only by a first year resident who had virtually no experience with that type of problem, according to the lawsuit. The resident failed to call for help when she saw that the woman's uterus had ruptured. By the time an experienced doctor arrived, the baby had suffered from a substantial deprivation of oxygen.

In Oregon and elsewhere, cerebral palsy is a well-known birth injury resulting from substantial oxygen deprivation to the baby's brain during delivery. That was the devastating result of the hospital's negligent treatment of the mother when she came to the emergency room for help. The import of the jury's verdict is that the mother will have access to funds for the around-the-clock medical care that the boy will need for the rest of his life. The money will reportedly be used to purchase an annuity that will make payments for medical care and living expenses as long as the child remains alive.

Source: khon2.com, "Tripler to pay $9 million in medical malpractice settlement", Feb. 5, 2016