Claim: Hospital negligence caused baby disability

25-year-old suffers series of serious medical impairments, claims Ichilov Hospital negligent in after-birth examination.

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Yedidya ben Ohr,

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Attorneys David Pyle and Goliath Mushka-Fraidel recently filed a compensation claim against Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv and the State of Israel in the name of a 25-year-old who suffers from a series of motor and neurological problems.

The lawsuit alleges that it was possible to prevent the emergence of these problems by addressing the clinical and laboratory findings which indicated a tremor that appeared immediately after the birth of the plaintiff - and continued until his release from the hospital 25 years ago.

According to the lawyers, some medical records were not documented properly, but medical experts have determined that in accordance with clinical and laboratory findings, the baby suffered from birth hypoglycemia - a decrease in blood glucose level - and polycythemia - an excess concentration of red blood cells.

The lawyers further argue that the treatment of polycythemia was already widely known the 80's. According to them, had the plaintiff been treated according to accepted standards then, it would have been possible to avoid the damage that was caused: Neurological injury, spastic paralysis of the legs and arms, difficulty walking, speech difficulties, visual impairment, and other impediments.

The suit was filed against Ichilov Hospital the Ministry of Health of the State of Israel, and it was put on the maximum amount adjudicable by a Magistrates Court, 2.5 million shekels. The claim will be heard in the coming days in the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court.

According to the claim, the medical staff at Ichilov did not notice laboratory findings which provided an explanation for the tremor that appeared in the plaintiff's body immediately after birth and continued until he was discharged from the hospital, despite blood tests carried out on the day of his birth indicating hypoglycemia (decrease in blood glucose) and polycythemia (excess concentration of red blood cells) - causing the plaintiff septic paralysis of both lower extremities and epileptic disorder.

"The discharge letter makes no reference at all to abnormal hemoglobin values ​​that accompanied the infant from birth, and despite the tremor at the time of discharge, which requires a review of blood glucose levels. The baby and his mother were invited for follow-up just eight days after discharge from the hospital," say the lawyers.

After being released from the hospital the plaintiff developed many neurological problems, among them motor development problems, difficulty walking, problems with speech, and vision impairment. Later, seizures began. A brain CT scan performed on the plaintiff at the age of two demonstrated, among other things, excessive brain size.

Prof. Rene Gil, a specialist in Neonatology, examined the case and stated her opinion that a decrease in glucose (hypoglycemia) mainly affects the functioning of brain cells. Hypoglycemic neonatal brain damage manifests, among other things, as a retardation of motor and intellectual development; mainly spasticity, epileptic seizures, and visual disturbances. The severity of the neurological damage is directly related to the hypoglycemia.

The expert determined that the plaintiff suffered many episodes of hypoglycemia during the first week of his life. She furthermore found that the plaintiff suffers from spastic paralysis in two limbs, impaired speech and vision, and epileptic disorder. These are typical clinical signs of hypoglycemic damage suffered during the neonatal period.

Prof. Gil also stated that in her opinion hypoglycemia is a common complication of polycythemia, and these facts were already known in the eighties.

Therefore, states Prof. Gil, in her opinion the plaintiff did not receive the best treatment by all acceptable standards that were already in place in the eighties. Had the plaintiff been treated with plasma in time, it would have been possible to prevent all the damage that was done to him - among other things, neurological injury typical of hypoglycemia, expressed as spastic paralysis in the legs and arms, difficulty walking, speech difficulties, and impaired eyesight.

Dr. Shaul Steere, a specialist in Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, also examined the case and its circumstances and expressed the opinion that the plaintiff needs orthopedic surgery to extend the short Achilles tendons in both of his legs to improve function, housing suited to his mobility needs and complications from the motor restrictions which he suffers, and he may need walking aids.

Dr. Steere also stated that the patient needs follow-up treatment and constant medical surveillance, as well as physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, alternative therapies and the like, including psychotherapy with a psychologist once a week. According to him, the patient's employment and livelihood options are limited, and he is therefore likely to be dependent on his family.

Ichilov Hospital said in response: "The hospital received the lawsuit and will respond in court as customary."