Jacobi Hospital pays nearly $8M in premature birth malpractice suit

Jacobi Medical Center sign
Physicians at Jacobi Medical Center were found responsible for malpractice in 2003 that caused the premature birth of Hakim Quick Jr.
Photo Aliya Schneider

Hakim Quick Jr. will need to be taken care of for the rest of his life because he was born extremely prematurely in 2003, at 23 weeks. A jury determined that it was Jacobi Medical Center’s fault.

As a result, the public hospital, part of the NYC Health and Hospital system, has agreed to pay $7.75 million to Quick; though a jury determined $80 million was actually owed.

At 19-years-old, school evaluations determined Quick’s mental capacity is that of a pre-K or kindergarten student. He has respiratory distress syndrome, chronic lung disease, cerebral palsy and profound intellectual disability. He has developmental delays and can’t communicate verbally beyond a few single words.

His mother, Theresa Wilson, has cared for him for his whole life.

Wilson and Quick
Hakim Quick Jr., pictured with his mother Theresa Wilson, will need care for his entire life. Photo courtesy Duffy & Duffy

“I’m his caretaker, I’m his provider, I’m his everything,” she told the Bronx Times. “You know, I’m his talk, I’m his mouth, I’m his ear, I’m his everything.”

The court found Quick’s life could have been different if physicians at Jacobi Medical Center gave his mother the proper care.

Wilson had an incompetent cervix when she was pregnant with Quick, meaning her cervix shortened too early in the pregnancy, increasing the risk of premature birth. The South Bronx mother was also found to have an incompetent cervix when pregnant with Quick’s older sister and younger brother, but in those pregnancies, she was treated properly with a cerclage, which is a procedure that sews the cervix shut in an effort to prevent premature birth or extend the pregnancy. Those children are in good health.

But physicians at Jacobi’s High-Risk Obstetrical Clinic thought her previous incompetent cervix diagnosis was wrong, (although they didn’t obtain the medical records from Wilson’s previous pregnancy in making that determination) so they didn’t perform a cerclage at 13-16 weeks gestation, which would have been appropriate, according to Quick’s legal team.

Because of her previous diagnosis, Wilson should have received a transvaginal ultrasound every two weeks, which allows doctors to measure the length of the cervix; but she went five weeks without one, according to Quick’s lawyers. When her doctors finally performed a second ultrasound at 21 weeks gestation, they saw her short cervical length. They performed a rescue cerclage three days later, when they should have done it within 24 hours, according to the legal team.

These three missteps lead to Quick’s extremely premature birth, which left him with an array of complications, the jury determined.

Quick spent the first 16 months of his life in various medical centers, where he had a tracheostomy (breathing tube) and feeding tube put in place. He used the breathing tube until age 5, and feeding tube until age 7. He used a wheelchair until he turned 9, at which point he learned to walk. But he still has trouble with his balance, and cannot go down stairs without help. He had to wear a helmet when he was younger because he would bang his head against hard surfaces seeking sensory input — he still rocks back and forth for the same reason.

Wilson, 50, is her son’s full-time caretaker. Her home is equipped with cameras and alarms because Quick doesn’t know better than to wander off. He needs constant supervision.

His mother is always with him, except for when he’s in school. But once he turns 21 he will age out of the school system.

Wilson and Quick
Theresa Wilson, left, is the full-time caretaker for her son Hakim Quick Jr. Photo courtesy Duffy & Duffy

“My life is his life,” she said. “He don’t move without me and I don’t move without him. He don’t go nowhere without me. He is always with me, around the clock, except for school hours.”

But despite her struggles, it’s always a good day for Wilson as long as she’s with her son, she said. He’s the reason she’ll never give up.

Her favorite moments are when he smiles and interacts with his siblings, recognizing them individually. Wilson has seven other kids, all 17 and older. She says they’re the best support team she could ask for.

Quick gets particularly happy when his younger brother Kelvin comes home. Music also makes him smile.

Over the years, Wilson tried to wrap her head around what was going on, and knew someone did something wrong. She stayed by Quick’s side through never-ending hospital visits, and went to the library to research what could have happened. But it wasn’t until the hospital and rehab visits started to wind down that she was able to focus on how to take action. She sought out help from law firm Duffy & Duffy, and the lawsuit was filed in 2011.

The matter accelerated this year, with a trial beginning in September. The malpractice verdict was reached on Oct. 20.

Though the jury awarded Quick $80 million, the case was settled for $7.75 million cash, as well as a $2 million Medicaid lien from his past care (though he will have to pay $10,000 toward the lien). He is also being entered into the New York State Medical Indemnity Fund, which will pay for his health care costs. Wilson can now undergo a training and certification process to be paid to continue caring for her son as a home health aid, earning the Medicaid rate but being paid from the indemnity fund.

The money awarded to Quick will be set up in a trust, and must be used toward his needs or quality of life, whether for his education, a fun trip to Disney World or residential care. The way the money is used will have to be reported to the court.

Lead attorney Jim LiCalzi, of Duffy & Duffy, said the large amount set by the jury was a “wake up call” to the city and NYC Health and Hospitals that medical care for Bronxites needs to improve.

Jacobi Medical Center did not comment on the finances of the settlement and only provided the following statement:

“NYC Health + Hospitals and the patient’s family came to a mutually agreed upon settlement that would benefit the patient and assist the family with his care. We hope this brings a sense of closure for everyone involved.”

After the lawsuit was filed, Jacobi tried to blame St. Barnabus Hospital, where Wilson ultimately gave birth. St. Barnabus in turn sued its own doctors, who the jury found not guilty.

“I would love people to know, never be afraid to speak up for your child,” Wilson said.

Reach Aliya Schneider at [email protected] or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

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