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$31 million awarded in Georgia botched circumcision case

A Georgia mother and her young son were awarded nearly $31 million last month in a medical malpractice case involving a botched circumcision. The jury verdict came after a two-week trial in Clayton County. A certified nurse midwife performed the procedure five years ago at an obstetrics and gynecology clinic in Riverdale when the boy was less than three weeks old.

According to the suit, during the circumcision, the baby's penis was caught in the clamp, and the tip of it was amputated. A supervising physician at the facility was brought in to stop the baby's hemorrhaging. However, the mother says that she was not told what had happened.

The people at the clinic stored the severed tissue in a refrigerator rather than reattaching it. Expert witnesses testified that it likely could have been successfully reattached as long as the procedure was done within 12 hours of the incident.

Instead, the owner of the clinic reportedly instructed the doctor and nurse to tell the mother that she could take her child home and advised her to bring him to an emergency room if he started bleeding again. The doctor, nurse and the clinic itself were among the defendants.

Most of the award ($30 million of it) is for the boy's pain and suffering, which attorneys argued will continue throughout his life. It's intended in part to pay for counseling and other needed support. The rest is for medical expenses -- both those already incurred and those he'll have in the future.

According to the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, the tissue that was amputated is unlike any other on the body, so "they had to go take a section of tissue from underneath his lip and attach it." He says that the boy will suffer lifelong complications from the botched procedure and the way it was handled.

Those of us with children depend on their health care providers to be honest with us whenever complications result from a procedure so that we can take the appropriate action. Often, children are too young to understand what has happened or even to express to us what kind of pain or other symptoms they're experiencing. When these providers don't live up to their obligations, parents may be able to hold them legally responsible via a malpractice suit so that our children receive the compensation they need and deserve.

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