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A premature birth that resulted in complications and, ultimately, cerebral palsy, cost two New York area hospitals $94.8 million. A jury found that the doctors involved failed to administer certain medications that could have delayed the onset of labor and reduced certain health risks to the newborn. In June 1993, Milagros Jordan, 27, went into labor at 27 weeks. She was admitted to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. Muhammed Mullick treated her with intravenous tocolytic drugs, which stop labor and contractions. He sent her home after two hours with an oral version of the tocolytic drug terbutaline to prevent further contractions. She returned to St. John’s two days later with ruptured membranes. The physician who saw her this time, Carlos Menera, determined that since the membranes had ruptured, tocolytic drugs were no longer an option. He also ruled out corticosteroids. These drugs, commonly given to women who go into labor before 34 weeks, speed up the maturation of the fetus’s lungs and reduce the risk of respiratory distress and brain hemorrhage. Menera transferred her to Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn, where attending physician Max Jean-Gilles also failed to administer either type of drug. That night, Jordan gave birth to Jonathan Perez. His premature lungs were underdeveloped, resulting in respiratory distress syndrome. The RDS rendered his blood acidotic, leading to a brain hemorrhage and cerebral palsy. Jordan sued both hospitals and all three doctors, alleging that although her membranes had ruptured, she was not in labor when she returned to St. John’s. The standard of care in that situation, said her lawyer, James F. Wilkens, is to administer both tocolytics and corticosteroids. Not only did both of the plaintiff’s experts testify to this, Wilkens noted, but so did the defendant doctors. Had it been done, Jonathan, now 8, would likely not have developed cerebral palsy, he said. On March 27, the jury agreed, awarding $94.8 million for Jonathan’s pain and suffering and lifetime care. St. John’s attorney, E. Gordon Haesloop, said he will seek to have the verdict set aside. Plaintiff’s attorney: James F. Wilkens of Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald, Yonkers, N.Y. Defense attorneys: E. Gordon Haesloop of Bartlett, McDonough, Bastone & Monachan, Mineola, N.Y.; Don D. Carlucci of Carlucci, Giardina & Farrell, New York; and Brian P. Flynn of Belair & Evans, New York.

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