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Prince George’s Co. jury awards $9.5M in med-mal case

A Prince George’s County jury has awarded $9.5 million in damages to the family of a child who developed cerebral palsy as a newborn after signs of an infection were not immediately treated by emergency room personnel.

By the time Desirae Gregg was treated, two days after first going to Laurel Regional Hospital’s emergency room in December 2005, she was suffering from meningitis and seizures, according to the complaint.

The jury’s verdict, reached Friday at the end of an 11-day trial, includes $5 million for future medical expenses, $1.5 million in lost earnings and $3 million in noneconomic damages, which is subject to a cap of $665,000 under Maryland law.

The verdict was against Maryland Provo-I Medical Services Inc., which provided emergency care services at the hospital, and Renae Ngati, an emergency room nurse.

Derrick and Yalonda Gregg brought then-two-week old Desirae to the emergency room after she missed several feedings and was short of breath, according to the complaint. Desirae exhibited signs of a neonatal infection that the on-call pediatric doctor was not made aware of, according to the complaint. The ER drew blood for tests but sent the Greggs home and told them to take Desirae to her pediatrician a few days later, according to the complaint.

The Greggs were called only after the bacterial infection was identified as Group B streptococcus, not when the blood test first came back positive for bacteria, the complaint said. Group B strep can result in meningitis in infants.

“This was emergency room 101 kind of stuff – do a blood test, read the results, convey critical results without delay so a patient can get essential treatment,” said Giles H. Manley, one of the Greggs’ lawyer, in a statement. “But that didn’t happen. This is a tragedy that easily could have been prevented.”

Manley is a partner at Janet, Jenner & Suggs LLC in Pikesville.