Birth Injuries Causing Cerebral Palsy: $4.925M Settlement
2015 Medical Malpractice Trial Report
Mismanaged labor and delivery results in cerebral palsy with spastic quadriplegia due to neurological injuries at birth
The plaintiff, a 28-year-old nulliparous woman, presented to the hospital for labor induction at 41.3 weeks gestation on the evening of 8/15/09. She was placed on an external fetal monitor, which was continuously monitored by obstetrical staff over the course of that evening and the following day.
Plaintiff was being attended to by a family medicine physician as the obstetrical provider. She was examined by the family medicine defendant four times on the evening of 8/16/09. She noted no abnormalities on the monitor despite fetal heart tracings which now showed repetitive variable decelerations and deceased variability. Both are non-reassuring findings indicative of a baby not tolerating labor and needing delivery. The family medicine defendant continued to manage the labor without intervention or a consult to the obstetrician until approximately 1:30 a.m. when she recognized late decelerations on the fetal monitor. At this point she called the obstetrician defendant to come and assess the plaintiff.
The obstetrical defendant arrived at 1:53 a.m. to review the tracings and determined that the changes were not worrisome and she could continue to labor. Decelerations continued and became more severe. Finally the obstetrician defendant recognized the need to deliver and prepared to use forceps. Forceps were unsuccessful and an emergent cesarean section was performed delivering the baby at 3:29 a.m.
The baby was blue, flaccid, and without respiratory effort or reflex response. Apgar scores were 2, 2, and 4. At 5:15 a.m. he was transferred to the NICU of a tertiary care center with a diagnosis of perinatal asphyxia.
The minor plaintiff, now 6, suffers from cerebral palsy with spastic quadriplegia and dystonia, secondary to hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, and is completely dependent on his parents for all of his daily activities. He cannot crawl, stand up, sit or ambulate independently, feed himself, dress himself, or use the bathroom. He will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life.
Plaintiffs’ obstetrical expert opined that by 10:08 p.m. on 8/16/09, the fetal heart rate tracings revealed a non-reassuring fetal heart rate pattern which overall never again became reassuring and required emergent delivery. At the time of mediation, defense had not disclosed expert opinions on the standard of care or cause of the injuries. Mediation was successful in resolving the matter for the policy limits of one defendant minus the cost of defense.
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