Jury Finds Colorado Doctor Negligent for Child’s Brain Damage; Family Awarded $4 Million
In the fall of 2005, Pamela Rudnicki rushed to the Memorial Hospital, located in Colorado Springs, CO. Rudnicki was nearly nine months pregnant at the time and was approaching her due date when her doctor, Peter Bianco, made the decision to induce labor. Bianco opted to use a drug that would initiate the delivery because the baby had grown to a size that would give Rudnicki, a small woman, difficulties during childbirth. But according to a 2014 medical malpractice lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Rudnicki family, Dr. Bianco should have known that a normal delivery was not an option and that the only safe delivery would have been a cesarean section, which he allegedly never proposed.
When the drug did not cause Rudnicki to go in to labor, Bianco administered more of the unspecified pharmaceutical, which can allegedly be dangerous to both the baby and the mother. Rudnicki’s lawyers argued in court that Bianco administered more than the hospital’s maximum allowed levels of the drug, which allegedly cut off the flow of oxygen to the baby. And when it was clear that the drug wasn’t working, instead of offering a cesarean section, Bianco decided to use a vacuum to force Alexander out of the womb.
“[Bianco] misplaced the device on the back and side of Alex’s head instead of on the top as the device was designed to be used,” explained one of the attorney’s representing the Rudnicki family. “Normally it takes a few minutes. Instead, Alex was stuck in the birth canal for 25 minutes. After 1-2 pulls, Alex’s heart
rate showed he was in deep trouble.”
The child was allegedly born with bruises from the vacuum and was unresponsive to the nurses, who immediately sent him to the intensive care unit (ICU) at Memorial. The attending physicians at the ICU revived the baby, but transferred him to the Children’s Hospital in Denver, where he was diagnosed with irreversible brain damage. According to the lawsuit, Alexander, now 11, has trouble speaking and his cognitive skills were severely impacted. Expert witnesses said that he will require constant medical care for the rest of his life.
The Memorial Hospital decided to settle the lawsuit out of court for an undisclosed amount, but the family could not reach an agreement with Dr. Bianco. In June 2017, the suit against Bianco, who claimed that he did nothing inappropriate, went to trial. And on June 23, 2017, a Colorado jury returned a verdict in favor of the Rudnicki family. The jury awarded $4 million for lost earnings as well as for past and future medical expenses. Rudnicki’s lawyers claim that with interest and other expenses the total sum could rise to around $8 million, but Colorado caps on medical malpractice lawsuit payouts could limit the award to $1 million.
“It’s been a very long 11.5 years getting to that point,” said Pamela Rudnicki. “We were thankful, humbled they decided in our favor and saw that Alex will need help his whole life.”
It is not clear whether Bianco will appeal the ruling, but one of Rudnicki’s attorneys told reporters that they will appeal any cap or reduction to the jury’s award.
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