Dr. Angelique Campen's daughter Paris was born premature and was still in the neo-natal unit five weeks later. On the evening of February 3, 2004, Dr. Angelique Campen noticed that her baby was showing signs of distress. Paris's heart rate was extremely slow and at times she actually stopped breathing. She was lethargic and had a floppy muscle tone.
Dr. Campen was alarmed, but the staff in the neo-natal center attributed the symptoms to the anesthetic used when a catheter was removed a few days before. "Paris was telling the staff there was something wrong but she wasn't heard," says Corwin. "And additionally, Dr. Campen, who was there and observed these symptoms, was marginalized and was not heard."
Paris had developed a serratia bacterial infection, a hospital infection that can be particularly aggressive in newborns, but has an excellent prognosis if treated as an emergency. Despite Dr. Campen's protests and the stacks of literature about infection risks and newborns, it was 11 hours before Paris was treated with antibiotics.
In the meantime, toxins did irreversible damage to the baby's brain.
"It is hard to believe it happened," says Corwin. "What Dr. Campen was articulating was supported by all the literature and even by the testimony of the defense experts."
Cedars-Sinai argued that administering antibiotics to infants before all an infection of this type is confirmed by lab tests is dangerous to the baby and can encourage antibiotic-resistant superbugs that endanger the lives of other patients. Although the hospital fought the suit at every turn, the jury confirmed Dr. Campen's belief that delayed diagnosis and treatment did harm to her baby and ordered the hospital to pay damages amounting to $7,379,566.
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Corwin, who frequently acts in medical malpractice suits, says the outcome of the case would have been the same even if Dr. Campen had not been present when her daughter became ill. "The baby was telling the staff what was wrong and where to look and she was ignored. The fact that the mother was a doctor and was in the neonatal unit as the baby's eyes and ears is just further evidence of negligence."
Diane Corwin is the principle at Diane Corwin Law. She is a trial lawyer with over 25 years experience representing individuals and families involved in medical malpractice, personal injury, business litigation, wrongful death and product liability, real estate fraud and breach of contract cases. She believes in personal attention to each client.