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Birth injuries lawsuit alleges doctor distracted by auto trouble

One commonly repeated stereotype about doctors is the allegation that they do what they do simply for the money and status it generates. Critics say that some doctors care more about their luxury cars and vacation homes than they do about their patients.

For the most part, this stereotype is both untrue and unfair. Most doctors go into medicine because of a sincere desire to help people. But every now and again, a story emerges that makes people wonder if certain doctors are motivated more by materialism than benevolence.

One example is a medical malpractice lawsuit being heard in a Florida courtroom. The plaintiffs are the parents of a 16-year-old boy with severe cerebral palsy. He is unable to walk on his own and his mental capabilities are reportedly those of a 2-year-old infant.

The defendant in the case is the doctor who helped deliver the young man in March of 1998. A lawyer for the plaintiffs alleges that the boy suffered birth injuries because the doctor was distracted by cellphone calls to a BMW service station. His BMW had broken down earlier that day.

A central issue in the case is whether it was appropriate for the doctor to use a vacuum pump to pull the baby out rather than trying to facilitate natural birth. The plaintiff's attorney claims he used the vacuum pump because he was impatient and wanted to get back to focusing on his car.

The doctor and his legal team argue that the decision was based only on relevant medical facts. The baby was about 5 weeks premature, and the mother was exhausted after being in labor for about 12 hours. The doctor said he didn't think the mother had energy to keep pushing, which is why he used the vacuum pump.

If this particular case seems complicated, it is worth noting that courts think so, too. This is the third time the case has gone to trial, due to an initial mistrial and defense-attorney misconduct. Hopefully, jurors in this current trial will be able to come do a decision that is both fair and informed.

Source: Palm Beach Post, "Lawyer claims doctor’s worry over BMW led to boy’s cerebral palsy," Jane Musgrave, March 4, 2015

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