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A Miami doctor was recently hit with a $33.8 million malpractice judgment after a baby he delivered was left with permanent brain damage due to his negligence.
The Miami Herald reports that Dr. Ata Atogho made three fatal mistakes when he delivered the child of Marla Dixon and Earl Reese-Thornton Jr. on Dec. 2, 2013:
The doctor ordered nurses to restart a drug to strengthen contractions; he failed to perform a Cesarean section; and most egregiously, he walked away from Dixon’s room for long periods, once for an eight-minute phone call from his stockbroker, according to the verdict.
Baby Earl was born blue in the face and his limbs were limp after he came through his mother’s birth canal, and by then he had severe brain damage from lack of oxygen.
The doctor, Dixon said later, blamed her for not pushing hard enough. He also falsified the 19-year-old mother’s medical record with a note that made it appear she had refused a C-section.
“Not one time did he apologize,” Dixon said of the doctor. “He blamed me.”
The story got worse when Dixon found out two other babies delivered by Atogho that same year were permanently brain damaged, too, and a third was disabled for life.
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All of the mothers were teen moms, all receiving pre-natal care at at Jessie Trice clinic, which serves many of Miami’s low-income and uninsured residents.
Atogho was accused of rushing of rushing to deliver her baby and using a vacuum device that disfigured her daughter, born in September 2013, with permanent damage to nerves in her shoulder and neck. The baby’s mother, who was 17 at the time, agreed to settle for $92,200 in January, reports the Herald.
In another case, this one in May 2013, a 19-year-old mother accused Atogho of ignoring signs that her baby was in distress and waiting too long to perform an emergency C-section. The baby girl was born with permanent brain damage.
The Herald reports that Atogho has not received a reprimand and no other disciplinary action has been taken against his Florida medical license for the incident. He’s not personally liable for the $33.8 million judgment for Dixon, either.
The U.S. government (i.e., taxpayers) is. Dixon and Reese-Thornton were able to sue the federal government because Atogho worked for a federally funded health clinic.
Atogho now works in private practice and has privileges at Jackson North Medical Center and Memorial Miramar Hospital in Broward County.
Read more of this story at the Miami Herald.