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Tripler Pays $11 Million Dollars for Malpractice


As Reported by KITV

HONOLULU -- An attorney for a Navy family on Tuesday announced an $11 million settlement involving a brain injury suffered when their baby was delivered.

David and Celia McCraw went to Tripler Army Medical Center in 2005 for the delivery of their daughter, Kayla Mae. During her delivery, a breakdown in communication between two doctors led to the injury, attorney Michael Livingston said.

The family's lawyer said inexperienced doctors made several major medical errors during the baby girl's delivery that resulted in the girl needing 24-hour care for the rest of her life.

In November 2005, as her 18-year-old mother was in the maternity ward at Tripler. Doctors concluded the baby was showing signs of distress and needed to be delivered immediately.

Because of a failure of communication between the second-year resident and her supervisor, they did not speed up her delivery and the baby waited almost an hour to be born.

“The fetal monitor strip showed that the baby was almost dead and at that point, they took steps to apply a vacuum to the baby's head and very quickly and relatively easily delivered the baby,” Livingston said.

When she was pulled out, the umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around the infant's neck, Livingston said. The child was then handed over to physician team, and a first-year intern inserted an oxygen tube in a way that the it fed into the baby's stomach instead of her lungs, Livingston said.

“As a result, they were pumping 100 percent oxygen into this newborn's stomach rather than her lungs,” Livingson said.

That continued that effort for 40 minutes, her lawyer said, causing her brain damage.

Her attorney said Tripler Army Medical Center crews also did not properly clamp off the baby's umbilical cord, resulting in severe bleeding, and the need for a blood transfusion

“What we had here was a series of egregious medical errors over a period of over two hours, which resulted in severe brain damage to this newborn baby,” Livingston said.

The lack of oxygen left Kayla Mae McCraw with brain damage that caused cerebral palsy and permanent disabilities. The girl, now 4, requires constant care and supervision.

Some of the $11 million will go into a fund to ensure that there will be enough money to provide for her care no matter how long she lives, Davis said. The settlement was reached shortly before trial in March. The family just recently received payment.

The McCraws now live in Texas.

Tripler Army Medical Center issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon: “The circumstances surrounding the November 2005 birth of Kayla McCraw at Tripler Army Medical Center were an unfortunate tragedy. Tripler accepts full responsibility for the outcome, resulting in its decision to support settlement of the lawsuit brought by Kayla and her family. Tripler is especially gratified in knowing that the settlement monies will ensure that Kayla will receive the medical care, assistance and rehabilitation that she needs for the rest of her life.

Tripler's commitment to providing the highest quality medical care to our active duty service men and women, their families and dependents, and the larger Hawai'i community has never been greater. Patient safety is at the heart of everything we do. Tripler has completed an extensive review and evaluation of this case and has already implemented important changes designed to ensure that similar tragedies do not occur in the future.”

Tripler Army Medical Center is the second largest military hospital in the world, and it has paid out several large judgments and settlements for medical malpractice in recent years.

A doctor gave the baby of an Army staff sergeant born at Tripler in 2005 carbon dioxide instead of oxygen for 40 minutes immediately after he was born. That caused severe brain damage.

A federal judge awarded the family of Izzy Peterson $16.5 million to pay for 24-hour care the boy will need for the rest of his life.

In 2003, a 10-day-old baby named Parker Kohl suffered massive brain damage after Tripler doctors failed to treat him properly and he had a heart attack. His family was awarded a nearly $10 million settlement.

In 2007, Robert Roth, 50, committed suicide by jumping to his death at Tripler. The retired Air Force paramedic had pleaded for help twice from the Tripler emergency room and threatened to commit suicide before eventually killing himself.

The federal government paid his family $800,000 to settle their lawsuit.