Birth Injury Settlement: $4.4 Million in Massachusetts
2022 Medical Malpractice Trial Report
By Attorney Krysia J. Syska, Birth Injury Lawyer
Lawsuit claims delay in delivery leads to uterine rupture, brain damage in newborn
The plaintiff presented to the hospital on Jan. 23, 2017, at approximately 11:30 p.m. with painful contractions. She was 38.5 weeks’ pregnant with a history of two prior C-section deliveries, making her at increased risk for uterine rupture with a vaginal delivery. Given that risk, the plaintiff elected for another C-section, which was scheduled for Jan. 26.
The plaintiff was placed on the fetal heart monitor. She was assessed for a total of 15 minutes by the defendant second-year resident, who consulted with the defendant third-year resident. The residents felt the strips were reassuring and that contractions had subsided.
After consultation with the defendant attending (who never saw the patient), the decision was made to discharge the plaintiff home at 1:15 a.m., with instructions to return for her scheduled C-section in two days, and to call if she had any worsening pain.
The defendants felt the risk of uterine rupture was so remote as not to be a risk to the patient.
At 4:25 a.m., and again at 4:47 a.m., the plaintiff called with concerns about pain and spoke with the third-year resident. Rather than being instructed to return, she was told to try a warm shower.
Later that morning, the plaintiff had a syncopal episode at home and was taken to the ER at 1 p.m. on Jan. 24. It was quickly determined to be an obstetrical emergency, and the baby was born by C-section at 1:29 p.m.
The minor plaintiff was found in a breech presentation in the setting of uterine rupture at the prior hysterotomy site: the exact risk that could have been avoided had the mother remained in the hospital and delivered earlier that morning.
The minor plaintiff’s cord pH was less than 6.8, indicative of profound hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Subsequent brain imaging confirmed extensive damage to both the gray and white matters of her brain, leaving her with severe and permanent lifelong disabilities.
The defendants testified that the plaintiff’s presentation did not warrant admission or delivery at that time, and the risk of rupture due to prior C-sections was so low as not to be a risk. They also disputed the instructions provided to the plaintiff during the early morning calls.
The birth injury claim settled during discovery for $4.4 million dollars.
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