PHYSICIAN LOSES $19.25M JUDGMENT

A Monmouth County jury earlier this week ordered an obstetrician to pay $23 million to a Freehold boy who was severely disabled at his birth at Riverview Medical Center, according to today’s Asbury Park Press.

The hospital is not identified as defendant in the article, nor in one that appears in the Star-Ledger.

The $23 million sum includes a $19.25 million judgment against the Dr. Aravind Palav as well as interest, the Press reports.

Brandon Kowalski was born with cerebral palsy and cortical blindness, his mother, Bonnie Kowalski, told the Press.

From the story:

Kowalski was 40 when she was taken to Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank on Sept. 11, 1997, on the advice of her obstetrician, Dr. Aravind Palav, after she complained of abdominal pain 30 weeks into her pregnancy.

When she arrived at the hospital, Palav suspected she was suffering from appendicitis and enlisted the aid of a general surgeon to perform an appendectomy, according to court documents. They moved forward to remove the appendix, but found the organ was normal. Instead the doctors found 3.5 liters of blood — half the blood volume of the average woman — in her abdomen.

The nurse assigned to take care of the mother repeatedly told Palav that she believed the baby was in distress because of readings from a fetal monitor, but the doctor moved forward despite her objections, according to Kowalski’s attorney, Dennis A. Drazin. Drazin and his brother, Brian D. Drazin, were co-counsel in the lawsuit.

The jury heard testimony from the nurse that she went over the doctor’s head and alerted her charge nurse to her concerns, and when the charge nurse did not confront the doctor she went to the hospital’s nursing supervisor insisting that an emergency Cesarean section was necessary to save the baby, Brian Drazin said.

An hour and 40 minutes after the operation began, a C-section was ultimately performed, Brian Drazin said. Kowalski’s son, Brandon, had no muscle tone and required resuscitation intense neo-natal care, he said. Because of oxygen deprivation, he suffered a intra-ventricular hemorrhage leading to severe brain damage and surgeries to place a permanent shunt in his head to remove fluid, he said.

In the lawsuit, Kowalski claimed Palav did not run proper tests to evaluate her severe abdominal pain, ignored the nurse’s warnings and did not recognize the abnormalities on the fetal monitoring strips. In addition, once the operation began and the large quantity of blood discovered, Palav failed to promptly deliver the baby by C-section, Kowalski contended.

A doctor, who testified at the five-week trial, said the boy would have been born without any problems if he was delivered sooner, and told the jury all the damage was done during the last half-hour before he was born.

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