A New York family recently settled a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of their child for $8.5 million after he suffered a birth injury that left him brain damaged. There was no evidence of any significant problems during the pregnancy. After labor began, the baby's heart rate was normal early on but then dropped to 60 beats per minute. This is less than half the rate of a normal heart rate for a full term baby before delivery. That is when things went down hill.
For thirty minutes, the labor and delivery nurse monitoring the baby failed to sound any alarms as the baby's heart rate remained at 60 beats per minute. Finally, the nurse decided to contact the obstetrician on call. Twenty minutes later, the obstetrician arrived. Despite apparent strong evidence of prolonged fetal distress, the obstetrician did not order an emergency cesarean section.
According to the family's medical malpractice lawyer, the nurse and obstetrician failed to recognize or appreciate the baby's fetal distress. In addition, the medical malpractice lawsuit alleged the obstetrician failed timely deliver the baby. As result of this delay, the suit further alleged this caused the child to suffer severe and permanent brain damage.
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (or HIE) is a common cause of birth injuries that cause brain damage. With HIE, the brain is deprived of adequate oxygen supply but the deprivation is not total. However, complete oxygen deprivation is not necessary to cause severe brain damage or even death when HIE is prolonged. For this reason, it is critically important that a hospital's labor and delivery team, including the obstetrician, promptly recognize signs of fetal distress and, when indicated, promptly delivery the baby. Failing to timely respond to fetal distress is a common source of serious neonatal brain damage and, by extension, costly medical malpractice lawsuits.
Wikipedia, Cerebral Hypoxia, Last Modified April 7, 2012.
nyorkmedialmalpracticelawyerblog.com, Birth Injury Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Settles For $8.5 Million, April 6, 2012