Delay in Delivery Leads to Brain Injury, Death of 19-day-old Baby: $1.5 Million Settlement

Medical Malpractice Settlement Report, 2021
By Robert M. Higgins, Medical Malpractice Lawyer 

Birth injury lawsuit claims that baby's death would have been prevented if obstetrician responded earlier to fetal distress and delivered 3 to 4 hours sooner

The plaintiff was 40 weeks pregnant with her first child in July 2018. On 7/31 she arrived at the hospital for labor. Her prenatal course had been uneventful. She was placed on the fetal monitor and her baby look healthy and well. 

At 8:10 a.m. the defendant obstetrician examined the plaintiff and indicated she expected a spontaneous vaginal delivery. The baby looked well throughout the day up until 7:30 p.m. At that time the baby’s heart rate became tachycardic at 160 (elevated heart rate over 160 beats per minute). The nurse paged the defendant at 7:45 but she did not come to see the plaintiff. 

Over the next 1.5 hours the heart rate continued to rise up to 180 beats per minute. The plaintiff was given oxygen and the defendant was paged again. 

Finally, at 10:05 the defendant came and examined the plaintiff. The defendant suspected maternal infection but only ordered antibiotics and Tylenol. She again indicated she thought the plaintiff would have a vaginal delivery. 

The remainder of the evening and into the following morning, the baby’s heart rate continued to be 170-180. The defendant obstetrician was aware but decided to continue the labor process. 

Finally, just before 5:00 a.m., the defendant noted in the records that she was going to deliver the baby via vacuum because of the baby’s non-reassuring tachycardia. This is the exact same heart rate the baby had been present since 9:00 p.m. the night before. 

The baby was born at 5:09 a.m. She was lifeless and needed immediate care. Enroute to the NICU, the baby’s heart rate stopped and she had a cardiac arrest. CPR was performed and she was revived. The baby underwent an MRI which showed she had suffered a massive hypoxic brain injury. She remained alive on ventilators until she was 18 days old. 

She was removed from all support and died the following day. The plaintiff consulted with several experts in this case. It was their opinion that by 10:00 p.m. on 7/31 this child was in distress as evidenced by her very elevated heart rate. When the heart did not come down at that time it was imperative that the baby be delivered by cesarean section. It was their opinion that her death would have been prevented if delivered 3-4 hours earlier than she was. 

The case was settled for $1,500,000 after written discovery had been completed.

Attorneys for the plaintiff: Andrew C. Meyer Jr. and Robert M. Higgins.

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