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Baby’s death ruled caused by hospital

Date Posted: 2004-11-05

A southern port Okinawa Prefectural Hospital’s been found guilty of errors in treating a baby who died in 1996.

The baby, a one-month-old patient, died four years ago. The charge was that the hospital policy required babies to sleep on their stomach, face down. The baby suffocated, stopped breathing, and the brain was paralyzed, causing the baby to lapse into a vegetative state.

The court says “the hospital did fail to watch the baby well. The hospital should have found out the baby’s breathing had stopped more quickly, but it was too late. That’s why the baby developed brain paralysis.”

The question was, was there a hospital error. The battle had raged eight years before this week’s settlement. The hospital has been ordered to pay the parents ¥35,000,000.

The family lawyer asked for damages from the hospital doctor as well, charging that the doctor’s judgment was part of the hospital error.

Since the incident and baby’s death, South Hospital has modified its policies, and places babies on their backs to sleep.

The dead baby had been sleeping on its stomach in the infant care cradlette. By the time a nurse checked the baby during rounds, it was too late. The baby was not breathing and did not respond to artificial respiration measures.

The hospital had been treating the premature baby, with the doctor defending the practice as “It’s better.” The parents had argued, now successfully, the doctor and hospital were wrong.

The family had asked for ¥76,000,000, double what the court approved.

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