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Afflicted Boy Born At Madigan Awarded $2.1 Million

October 9, 1986

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) _ A boy afflicted with cerebral palsy following a botched delivery at the Madigan Army Medical Center has been awarded nearly $2 million by a federal judge.

Disabilities of Patrick Gabbard, now 8, were caused by a series of actions at the hospital near Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base, Judge Jack E. Tanner ruled recently after a one-week trial in U.S. District Court.

More than $23 million in malpractice claims against Madigan have been awarded since 1979, although many of those cases are under appeal. Millions of dollars in additional claims are pending.

Additional staff and other improvements have been made at the hospital recently after a civilian review board and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals said more personnel were needed.

Tanner ordered the government to pay $1.9 million to the boy and $100,000 each to his parents, Debra Gabbard, a day-care operator, and John Gabbard, a computer programmer and former Army sergeant.

Patrick walks with a severe limp and has learning disabilities, his mother said. The boy attends regular third-grade class for part of the day and a class for handicapped children the remainder, she added.

Hospital officials told the Gabbards their son was deprived of oxygen during birth because the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck.

Tanner, however, said evidence showed the mother’s medical chart, showing her pregnancy had been diagnosed as a high-risk case, was unavailable when she was admitted to the Madigan labor room.

A nurse later gave Debra Gabbard a drug to induce contractions, but as the fetus was becoming exhausted from the contractions the mother twice was given an anesthetic that delayed delivery, the judge said in his Oct. 2 ruling.

Throughout labor, electronic fetal monitorings showed the fetus was in significant distress for an hour and a half, yet hospital personnel did nothing to alleviate the problem, the decision added.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Pickrell said Justice Department officials in Washington would decide whether to appeal the decision.

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