$2M Settlement for Intrauterine Fetal Demise

2015 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Plaintiffs claimed nurse and nurse midwife were grossly negligent in failing to recognize the dangerous fetal heart rate tracing as a sign of fetal distress

The plaintiff was expecting her first child in November of 2014. On 11/23/14, the plaintiff, who was 41 weeks pregnant, presented to the hospital at 5:30 pm with complaints of labor. The plaintiff was placed on fetal monitoring and everything looked fine with the baby for the first few hours. However, at 11:30 pm, the baby showed clear signs of distress. The defendant nurse and nurse midwife were aware of the problems and acknowledged their concerns in the medical records but they failed to contact the attending obstetrician. Instead, they gave oxygen and turned the plaintiff from side to side. The monitoring tapes showed that these measures were not helpful in relieving the distress of the baby.

At 1:00 am there was no audible fetal heart rate for several minutes. Once the nurse and nurse midwife were able to find the heart rate again, it demonstrated that the baby was in worsened distress. Despite these further concerning findings, the defendants again failed to contact the attending obstetrician. Instead, they ordered Pitocin to increase the contractions. By 1:43 am, the fetal heart rate pattern developed into a sinusoidal pattern which is an obstetric emergency as it indicates a fetus in distress due to asphyxiation. The nurse and nurse-midwife continued to administer Pitocin and did not notify a physician.

The fetal heart rate tracing remained concerning with a sinusoidal pattern until approximately 3:30 am when the plaintiff’s water broke. An obstetrician was finally called into the room at this time. The records show that once the obstetrician looked at the fetal monitor she ordered an emergent cesarean section. A baby girl was born at 3:42 am without any respiratory effort and no pulse. She was pronounced dead after 22 minutes of resuscitation.

The plaintiffs were prepared to present expert testimony that the defendant nurse and nurse midwife were grossly negligent in failing to recognize the dangerous fetal heart rate tracing as a sign of fetal distress. Had they recognized the problems and consulted with an obstetrician when the problems began and into the early morning hours, the plaintiff’s expert opined that an emergency cesarean section would have been performed and the baby would have been born alive and well.

The case settled for $2,000,000 prior to the filing of the complaint.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys Andrew C. Meyer, Jr. and Robert M. Higgins represented the plaintiff in this medical malpractice lawsuit. (Worcester Superior Court)

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