A D.C. Superior Court jury awarded $150,000 in damages yesterday to the mother of a 16-day-old child who died of a drug overdose at Children's Hospital after a nurse accidentally injected the child with a shot of antibiotics 10 times as strong as prescribed.
Earlier, Judge Leonard Braman had determined that hospital employes were negligent when they injected 375 miligrams of chloramphenicol into Erica Damon, who had been transferred to Children's after developing complications from the premature birth at Prince George's General Hospital in Cheverly.
The jury deliberated over two days before making the award to the child's mother, Sharma Lebrew, 31, of District Heights, a secretary for the D.C. government.
During the trial, lawyers for the hospital denied negligence, and also argued that the child would not have led a normal life because the complications from the premature birth would most likely have caused physical and mental handicaps.
However, the mother's lawyer, Jack H. Olender, conternded that the child would have had at least a 50-50 chance of leading a normal life. Olender said the child had already shown signs of improvement and had been taken out oif the intensive care unit at Children's before the injection.
The likelihood of the child leading a normal life was a central factor in determining the amount of damages -- if any -- in the case.
Defense lawyers said that a proper dosage of antibiotics had been prescribed for the child. However, a nurse misread the child's chart and injected the larger dosage.
Lawyers for the mother, who had initially asked $6 million in damages, said the nurse and the pharmacist filling the drug prescription had a responsibility to make sure that the dosage was the proper amount.