Death of Newborn Malpractice Settlement: $1M
2016 Medical Malpractice Trial Report
Obstetrician's failure to recognize and act on problems on fetal heart monitor leads to death of newborn
Plaintiff was 40 weeks pregnant when she presented to the hospital on 8/15/11 at 4:30 p.m. She was contracting with a reassuring fetal heart rate. At 6:20 p.m. nursing report was given to the covering obstetrician who was not present in the hospital. The nurse noted she would call the obstetrician (OB) with any changes. At 8:40 p.m. there were changes seen on the FHR monitor. The OB was notified but no new orders were given and he did not come to the hospital to evaluate the patient.
By 9:40 p.m. the FHR monitor was very concerning. By 10 p.m. the patient was fully dilated and ready to push. The nurse called the OB to report the changes on the monitor and that the patient was starting to push. It is noted that no new orders were given by the OB. At deposition, the nurse testified she told the OB about decelerations that were occurring and that she assumed he would come to the hospital. The OB testified he was never asked to come evaluate the patient and was told the decelerations which occurred had resolved. According to plaintiff’s expert, the changes seen on the FHR monitor were persistent, very concerning and required emergent delivery of the baby by cesarean section.
At 11 p.m. another nurse took over care of the patient. The FHR was now tachycardic (indicative of hypoxia) and decelerations continued. At 11:30 p.m., the OB called for an update and was told the patient was pushing and he would be called when needed for delivery.
At 11:39 p.m., the nurse could not locate the FHR. At 11:46 p.m., she called the OB regarding her difficulty tracing the FHR and learned the OB was on his way. At 11:53 p.m., the Nurse asked another OB who was in the hospital to come evaluate the patient. This OB came to the room at 11:56 p.m. and a STAT cesarean section was ordered. This was the first physician to evaluate the patient since her arrival to the hospital at 4:30 p.m.
The baby was delivered at 12:11 a.m. He was limp and cyanotic with Apgar Scores of 1, 3, and 4. He required resuscitation and intubation. He was placed on the hypothermia protocol but his prognosis was poor and he died on 8/17/11. The case resolved for One Million dollars in the weeks prior to trial.
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