Death of 3-day-old from Birth Injury: $1M Settlement

2018 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Lawsuit claims delay in delivery and failure to recognize changes in fetal heart rate tracings resulted in death of baby from severe diffuse anoxic brain injury

At 3 days old, a baby boy died from a severe diffuse anoxic brain injury alleged to have been incurred during childbirth. His mother presented at term for a trial of labor after cesarean (TOLAC). She was put on an external fetal heart monitor and had an unremarkable artificial rupture of membranes. Progress was slow and steady, with reassuring category 1 tracings throughout the day.

In the early afternoon, Pitocin was started to augment labor. In the evening, the tracings continued to be reassuring with the mother contracting every two to three minutes.

Around midnight, there were noted early decelerations with minimal to moderate variability. In the early morning hours, the fetal heart rate was in the 150’s but went into the 160’s and 170’s at times.

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Around 2:00 a.m., the tracing was still category 1 with good variability with some variable decelerations down to the 110’s to 120’s. The mother was vomiting forcefully at 2:37 a.m. and was medicated with Reglan.

The mother began to push at 2:51 a.m. and was pushing well. The fetal heart rate was in the 80’s to 90’s after pushing with a slow recovery to a baseline in the 150’s to 160’s. Pitocin was stopped and oxygen administered.

At 3:03 a.m., an internal scalp electrode was placed. At 3:12 a.m., mother was again retching and vomiting, lying on her left side. A vacuum was applied at 3:15 a.m. At 3:26 a.m., the head was out and the staff was attempting to deliver the shoulders. The baby was delivered at 3:28 a.m., emerging through light meconium stained fluid.

The baby was cyanotic, floppy, and had no respiratory effort. He was intubated. Apgar Scores were 2, 2, and 2.

He was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at approximately two hours of life. He received the cooling protocol for neonatal encephalopathy. He had persistent metabolic acidosis, and other lab values indicating multi-organ impact of perinatal hypoxia. He passed away from acute cardiorespiratory failure due to neonatal encephalopathy.

The plaintiff claimed the defendants delayed in delivering the baby, and failed to recognize concerning changes in the fetal heart rate tracings.

The case settled during discovery for $1 million.

Attorneys for the plaintiff in this lawsuit: Andrew C. Meyer, Jr., and William J. Thompson, Lubin & Meyer PC.

Court: Middlesex Superior Court

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