Birth injury lawsuit: Delivery doc settles for $1 million for baby’s brain damage

Medical Malpractice Trial Lawyers Report, 2006

Failure to stop labor leads to premature delivery and brain damage

The plaintiff was expecting her first child and began her prenatal care in early 1994. Her pregnancy was uneventful until 6/8/94 when at 29 1/2 weeks gestation, the plaintiff was admitted to Anna Jacques Hospital with preterm contractions which were effectively stopped by a medication -Terbutaline. The plaintiff was sent home and was to be monitored further.

On 7/3/94 at 9:21 p.m., the plaintiff again presented to the Anna Jacques Hospital in preterm labor – this time at 33 weeks gestation. She reported that contractions had begun at 8 p.m., lasting every 2-3 minutes for 50 to 60 seconds. Her cervix had advanced to two to three centimeters dilated. At 10 p.m., the defendant examined the plaintiff and he ordered Terbutaline by injection, but the plaintiff’s contractions persisted. At 11 p.m., the defendant ordered another dose of Terbutaline but the contractions continued. The plaintiff expected to present expert medical testimony stating that the defendant failed to act properly by attempting to stop the contractions with the same medication which had been proven to be unsuccessful with the plaintiff. The plaintiff expected to evidence to show that there were other medications available to stop contractions and that the standard of care required the defendant to change the medication.

At midnight, the defendant performed an exam which showed that the cervix was still 3 centimeters dilated but indicated that he was reluctant to transfer her by ambulance. During the course of the litigation, the defendant acknowledged that the practice at Anna Jacques Hospital was to transfer any patient to a Boston hospital that was in labor and less than 34 weeks pregnant. This policy was due to the fact that the Anna Jacques did not have a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Despite this practice, the defendant decided to keep the plaintiff at Anna Jacques Hospital and opted not to transfer. By 7 a.m., the plaintiff’s cervix was 5 cm. dilated and by 10 a.m. the cervix was almost completely dilated. At 10:20 a.m., the nurses noted that the plaintiff was pushing. The plaintiff was allowed to push for the next 4 hours until the minor plaintiff was finally delivered at 2:21 p.m. weighing just less than 6 lbs. The minor plaintiff had no respirations at delivery and a slow heart rate. The minor plaintiff continued to have poor respiratory effort and low blood pressure and arrangements were made to transfer him to Massachusetts General Hospital.

The records from MGH indicate that at admission on 7/4/94, the minor plaintiff suffered from low blood pressure and decreased peripheral perfusion. The minor plaintiff suffers from very low tone, difficulty walking, cognitive and emotional issues. He continues to receive physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and oral motor therapy.

The plaintiffs expected to present evidence showing that the defendant was negligent in his management of the plaintiff’s labor and delivery. The plaintiffs expected to show that the labor could have and should have been stopped if the defendant had chosen the correct medication. Further, the plaintiffs expected to show that once the defendant could not properly stop the plaintiff’s contractions, he had a duty to send the plaintiff to a Boston hospital where there was a neonatal intensive care unit to care for the minor plaintiff immediately upon birth. Finally, the plaintiffs expected the evidence to indicate that the minor plaintiff suffered his injuries as a result of prematurity and that fact that he did not have sufficient post-delivery care at a community hospital.

The defendant was expected to present expert medical testimony stating that there was no scientific evidence available to indicate that using another medication on a mother who is actively dilating would stop contractions and that any theory put forth would be pure speculation. The defendant was further expected to present evidence that he did everything he could for the plaintiff and minor plaintiff and that this outcome was unfortunate but nobody’s fault.

The case settled 1 week before trial for $1,000,000.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this birth injury lawsuit related to a premature delivery and baby's brain damage.

Questions about a premature delivery and birth injuries?

Do you have questions about a possible medical malpractice claim involving injuries at birth?

Contact Us - There is no fee or cost to you to have your case evaluated by our qualified medical malpractice attorneys. Call 800-866-2889 to speak with an attorney today.

Lubin & Meyer PC - Boston’s Innovative Leader in Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law

Our medical malpractice lawyers are licensed to practice in: Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

Return to: Verdicts & Settlements case archive

Return to: Lubin & Meyer home page