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Verdugo Hills Hospital Plans to Appeal

The hospital claims that they released the newborn baby boy at the parents request and that he showed no signs of jaundice.

July 13, 2007|By Mary O'Keefe

Verdugo Hills Hospital is planning to file an appeal in a recent jury decision that awarded a child $15 million finding that the hospital and a local pediatrician was negligent in informing and caring for a baby with jaundice.

A 9-3 Glendale Superior Court jury verdict of $15 million was awarded July 2 to a local family in support of their claims that Verdugo Hills Hospital and their son's pediatrician did not properly address their newborn's jaundice. The actual costs to pay for extensive medical care over the course of Aidan Ming-Ho Leung's lifetime may be closer to $96 million.

The child was born at the local hospital in March 2003 and according to Leung's attorney, Luan K. Phan, neither the hospital nor as well as the pediatrician, Dr. Steven Wayne Nishibayashi, did not do all they could to inform and treat the child's jaundice. Both Verdugo Hills Hospital and Nishibayashi were listed as defendants in the case.

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"They [the hospital] gave a booklet about how to care for your child with jaundice," Phan said. "No one discussed the risk factors, especially for East Asian boys East Asian boys have a greater risk [when jaundice develops] according to the Center for Disease Control and American pediatrics," Phan said.

Verdugo Hills Hospital attorneys argued that the child was healthy and not showing any signs of jaundice when he left the hospital.

"The mother elected to go home early," said Leonard La Bella, CEO and president of VHH. "There was no evidence of jaundice at that time." La Bella said the hospital will appeal the decision.

Jaundice is a sign of a build up of bilirubin, a yellow bile pigment, produced in quantities too large for a baby's liver to excrete.

According to Phan, Leung had signs of cephaloalohematomas, a type of bruising, and a symptom of jaundice. If left untreated jaundice, in the most severe cases, can cause a neurological disorder called kernicterus, which can cause mental retardation, cerebral palsy and hearing loss. Leung has been diagnosed with this neurological condition.

"Aidan has one of the most severe types of cerebral palsy," Phan said. "They gave the parents generic information. This was their first child."

Phan argues the symptoms of jaundice were developing while he was still in the hospital. La Bella and the attorneys for Verdugo Hills argue that the child showed no symptoms before he was released.

If we saw any symptoms, we would not have released the child, La Bella said.

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