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Infant’s Medical Malpractice Pain and Suffering Award Slashed

Posted in Medical Malpractice

On February 23, 2009, at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, Nylah Hollingsworth was born prematurely at 26 1/2 weeks of gestation.

Two weeks later,Nylah was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), an acute infection of the intestine sometimes seen in premature infants.

Nylah’s mother sued the hospital claiming that it negligently caused NEC. On September 30, 2014, a Queens County jury returned a verdict finding that the hospital was negligent by failing to obtain a surgical consult or transfer Nylah to another hospital upon diagnosing her with NEC. Then, the jury awarded pain and suffering damages in the sum of $5,000,000 ($1,000,000 past – five and a half years, $4,000,0000 future – 75 years).

In Hollingsworth v. Mercy Medical Center (2d Dept. 2018), the appellate court affirmed the liability finding against the hospital and the trial judge’s reduction of the pain and suffering award to $575,000 ($75,000 past, $500,000 future).

As set forth in the appellate court decision, the jury found that the defendant was responsible only for the delay in obtaining a surgical consult and transferring Nylah to another hospital, not for causing the NEC itself.

Here are the injury and course of treatment details:

  • Born weighing only 2 pounds 3 ounces, Nylah was stabilized in the delivery room and transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit where she was provided antibiotics, fluids and respiratory support
  • Started on total parental nutrition the day after birth, then breast feeding by March 6th
  • Upon a significant increase in abdominal girth and spewing formula and polyvisol, Nylah was diagnosed with Stage II NEC on March 9th and a surgical abdomen on March 10th
  • Grossly bloody stool on March 10th; intubated and placed on mechanical ventilator
  • Lung collapse on March 12th; bowel sounds absent
  • Abdominal girth continues to rise and abdomen remains distended through March 15th when transferred to Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJ) for definitive treatment (where she remained hospitalized for 166 days, until August 27th
  • Surgery on March 16th to place Penrose drain in abdomen to drain ascites
  • Surgery on May 5th – exploratory laparotomy and ileocolic resection in which approximately 14 inches of bowel was removed and an ileostomy was created (that was subsequently removed on September 2nd)
  • Transferred from LIJ to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan where she remained until September 21st
  • Continuing short bowel syndrome secondary to NEC with frequent diarrhea, loose stools and frequent stomach pain