Saturday, October 21, 2006

A question about a medical malpractice defense argument

After reading Record $16.5M goes to family in Tripler suit - The Honolulu Advertiser (by Ken Kobayashi, Advertiser Courts Writer, October 20, 2006), Anne at PalmTree Pundit wondered about this paragraph:

During the trial, the government's position was that Izzy is not even aware of his existence, but the Petersons' experts contended he is aware that he is alive and feels pain, Fried said. His parents believe he recognizes them and responds to them, he said.

The newspaper article trips along to the next subject, without specifying where the government was trying to go with this, and Anne finds the implications troubling, as do I. I have my guesses (euthanasia tops the list), but they're only guesses. Does anybody have solid info on the Izzy Peterson case? Was the government arguing to stop care on this kid so he'd die? Or what? Elsewhere in the article it does say:

The federal government earlier admitted liability for Izzy's injuries. That left only the amount of the award to be decided by [U.S. District Judge David] Ezra in the non-jury trial.

The trial hinged on Izzy's life expectancy. Fried said he contended it would be 40 years, and the government set it at 20 years. Ezra's verdict was based on a life expectancy of 27 years.

About $12.2 million of the $16,497,263 verdict is for Izzy's expenses the rest of his life. The rest is for Izzy's loss of future income, his past and future mental anguish, and emotional suffering and pain.

So maybe they were just arguing against paying for his mental anguish and/or emotional suffering? Since they won't recognize he could have any??

The short version is that this baby was born at a military hospital in 2005, and was hooked up to carbon dioxide instead of oxygen after he was born, resulting in severe brain damage. He is expected to need nursing care his entire life.

One more excerpt:

Shalay Peterson [the baby's mother], a former medical assistant to a Kahala pediatrician, indicated she doesn't harbor any bitterness toward Tripler. She said the facility treated her husband well for a broken shoulder he suffered in Afghanistan.

"It would be unfair for me to punish the hospital for one person," she said.

"I try not to focus on what happened," she said. "I try to focus on what we can do to make things better."

The mother said Izzy is doing better than expected, wears glasses and may get off the ventilator in a year or so. He holds his head up by himself and turns to hear voices, she said.

"He's very ticklish," she said.

He's doing now what others said he would never be able to do, she said.

"God is showing us he has the last word."

She said their other two sons, Ian, 16, and Saion, 10, and their daughter, Siani, 13, were very supportive. They cried when told about the verdict, she said.

Islam Yasim Ibn Siddiq "Izzy" Peterson was born Jan. 14, 2005, at Tripler Army Medical Center.

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