Birth Injury Settlement Involving Midwife is $1.5M
2016 Medical Malpractice Trial Report
Lawsuit claims failure of midwife to immediately notify obstetrician at the first sign of instability in the fetal heart rate or maternal condition
The plaintiff presented to the hospital at 36 weeks gestation with complaints of sudden abdominal pain. At 9:36 a.m. she was placed on a fetal monitor and three minutes later was evaluated by the defendant certified nurse midwife who performed a vaginal examination. No vaginal bleeding was noted but there was a question of vaginal bleeding while the plaintiff was at home. The fetal heart rate (FHR) pattern was reactive with a baseline in the 130s and irregular contractions. After this initial evaluation, there is no indication that the plaintiff was examined at any time over the next hour.
At 10:57 a.m., a nurse noted that the plaintiff continued to report pain. No action was taken based on this complaint. At 11:26 a.m. the nurse administered oxygen to the plaintiff. She then notified the defendant, who was at plaintiff’s bedside at 11:27 a.m. with an obstetrician. The physician noted that the fetal heart tracing now showed variable decelerations and a drop in the baseline.
At 11:33 a.m., the plaintiff was taken to the operating room for an emergent cesarean section. A fetal scalp electrode was applied and the FHR was noted to be in the 80s. Anesthesia arrived at 11:42 a.m. The obstetrician’s preoperative diagnosis was a non-reassuring fetal heart tracing secondary to an abruption. The minor plaintiff was delivered via cesarean at 11:44 a.m. His Apgar scores were 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. He was diagnosed with a hypoxic brain injury and seizures.
The plaintiffs’ obstetrical expert was prepared to testify that the standard of care required the midwife to notify the obstetrician immediately at the first sign of instability in the fetal heart rate or maternal condition. By 10:47 a.m. the fetal heart rate monitor revealed a pattern of persistent and recurrent late decelerations in conjunction with evidence of placental abruption including vaginal bleeding, severe pain, hypercontractile uterus, and premature labor. The defendant midwife did not summon the obstetrician until 11:27 a.m. thus delaying delivery of the baby from this hostile uterine environment. The defense experts were prepared to testify that there were no obvious sign of abruption as there was no report of vaginal bleeding and that when the fetal status deteriorated the baby was immediately delivered within 30 minutes.
The minor plaintiff, now ten, has global developmental delays and cerebral palsy and will require care for the rest of his life. The parties agreed to mediation and resolved the claim for $1,500,000 three months prior to trial. The defendant had an insurance policy with maximum coverage of Two Million dollars.
Suffolk Superior Court:
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Midwives of Brain Damaged Infant Settle for $2.8 Million
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