$5M settlement for baby’s brain damage at birth

Failure to diagnose and treat signs and symptoms of persistent fetal distress resulting in brain damage.

Medical Malpractice Trial Report, 2007

In April of 2001, the plaintiff was expecting the birth of her second child on or about 4/14/01. Prenatal testing, including non-stress testing and biophysical profiles, all showed a well-developed, healthy baby. On 4/11/01, the defendant obstetrician admitted the plaintiff to Brockton Hospital for cervical ripening and Pitocin induction. The Pitocin was started at 6:00 a.m. on 4/12/01 and at approximately 9:31 a.m., the plaintiff spontaneously ruptured her membranes. The labor continued without complications until approximately 3:20 p.m when the baby’s heart rate began to show severe problems—persistent late decelerations. At 4:50 p.m., the fetal heart rate pattern became even more non-reassuring with decreased variability. Despite being aware of these worrisome signs, the defendant obstetrician allowed the labor to continue and did not perform a cesarean section.

Throughout the afternoon and evening, the plaintiff was also cared for by the two defendant nurses. These defendant nurses recognized the problems in the baby’s heart rate, gave the plaintiff oxygen, turned her from side to side but they continued to give the Pitocin. The plaintiffs were prepared to offer expert medical testimony that it is bad medical practice to continue Pitocin administration in the setting of a non-reassuring fetal heart rate tracing. The plaintiff pushed for almost three hours. During that time, the plaintiffs were prepared to present evidence at trial that there was clear evidence of fetal distress and the defendants failed to intervene. Finally, at 12:03 am on 4/13/01—almost nine hours after problems were first noted—the child was delivered. She needcd to be resuscitated in the delivery room and then was sent immediately to the NICU where she needed to be intubated. The child was found to have seizures and a brain CT scan showed the child had suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage. She currently is severly developmentally delayed and has spastic quadriparesis—all as a result of severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. She is unable to speak, walk, feed herself and she is legally blind.

The plaintiffs were prepared to present expert medical testimony that the child injuries occurred in the last few hours before birth. It was expected that there would be expert medical testimony that the child would have suffered virtually no injuries had she been delivered when the defendants noted problems with her heart rate.

The defendants were expected to present expert medical testimony that all the defendants acted appropriately in their care and treatment of the plaintiffs. Specifically, the defendants were prepared to present expert medical opinions stating that the child was injured before her mother arrived at the hospital for induction. The defendants were prepared to present evidence which showed that the child’s brain injury was evident immediately after birth and that is evidence that the injury occurred days or weeks before the birth of the child.

The case settled for $5,000,000.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this brain injury lawsuit.

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