Massachusetts Birth Injury Settlement Is $2.3 Million

2020 Medical Malpractice Case Report
By Attorney Krysia J. Syska
Barnstable Superior Court
Barnstable, Massachusetts

Failure to respond to fetal distress results in permanent neurologic injury to minor plaintiff

On 11/3/15, plaintiff was admitted for induction of labor at 40.6 weeks gestation. She was placed on the fetal monitor and Pitocin was initiated at 3 p.m. At 5 p.m. the defendant obstetrician was at the bedside reviewing the fetal monitor strips and vaginal examination revealed 6 cm dilatation. By 9 p.m. the plaintiff was contracting every two minutes and SVE revealed 7-8 cms dilatation. At 11:15 p.m. the defendant labor nurse noted a change in the FHR with an increase in baseline and decrease in variability. Both of which warrant close observation. The Pitocin was discontinued yet the FHR patterns continued to be concerning with decelerations and no evidence of reassuring accelerations. By 12 a.m. the FHR baseline had risen to the 160s. Tachysystole was noted with contractions every 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Still the defendants watched without intervention.

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At 12:37 a.m., the defendant was able to reduce an anterior lip and the plaintiff began to push, however, within minutes prolonged decelerations into the 70’s were noted. The operating room team, anesthesia and pediatrician were called. The plaintiff was repositioned and oxygen was administered yet she was allowed to continue pushing with recovery of the FHR to the 150’s. The defendants recorded these as variable decelerations with pushing.

Plaintiff’s expert obstetrician reviewed all of the FHR tracings and opined that a worrisome, nonreassuring pattern of recurrent variable and late decelerations was evident by 12:41 a.m. and the standard of care required delivery by emergent cesarean section immediately as vaginal delivery was not imminent.

Anesthesia and the OR team were readily available at 1:12 a.m., yet the plaintiff was allowed to continue pushing with persistent deep decelerations. With her last push the plaintiff complained of sharp lower abdominal pain and the defendant made the decision to proceed with a cesarean section. She was taken to the OR at 1:37 a.m. and upon entry into the abdominal cavity, there was noted to be a spontaneous uterine rupture.

The minor plaintiff was delivered with Apgar Scores of 3, 3, and 4 and arterial cord pH of 6.7. He he was intubated and despite use of the cooling protocol he was subsequently diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. He is now five years old; unable to walk or talk and is completely dependent on others for all activities of daily living.

The defendants were prepared to testify that the FHR tracings were not abnormal for a patient in active labor and the uterine rupture was unexpected and not preventable.

Prior to a scheduled trial date the parties agreed to settle the claim for $2,300,000.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys for the plaintiff: Andrew C. Meyer, Jr. and Krysia Syska.

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