Articles Posted in Childbirth Malpractice

A wrongful birth medical malpractice case alleges that a heath care provider such as a doctor (such as an OBGYN or radiologist), hospital or laboratory was negligent by failing to properly inform a pregnant mother that her fetus had some serious medical condition, so that the mother would have had an opportunity to terminate the pregnancy.

One type of wrongful birth claim involves the failure of an obstetrician or lab to properly report a positive blood test called a quadruple screen, which screens for a number of prenatal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome.  Another type of wrongful birth claim involves the failure of a radiologist to properly report that a sonogram shows Spina Bifida or certain markers, sometimes called hard and soft markers, for Down Syndrome.

Most states, like Maryland and the District of Columbia have recognized the ability of a mother to bring a wrongful birth medical malpractice claim.  Usually, the mother is allowed to claim the extraordinary cost of raising the child which, for a child with Down Syndrome, can be millions and millions of dollars.

After eight days of testimony and fifteen hours of deliberations, an Atlanta jury this week awarded $45.8 million to a woman who suffered catastrophic and irreversible brain damage just days after giving birth.  Three days after her child’s birth, the woman suffered a heart attack while undergoing x-rays.  Although she was able to be resuscitated, she was without oxygen for approximately ten minutes and suffered an anoxic brain injury that has rendered her unable to care for herself in any meaningful way.

In the medical malpractice lawsuit, the woman’s lawyers claimed that the heart attack was caused by the healthcare providers’ failure to properly monitor her blood pressure in light of preeclampsia, combined with pulmonary edema, also knowns as fluid in the lungs.  The defense took the position at trial that the woman’s decline was more likely explained by pulmonary embolism – a blood clot that breaks off from one area of the body and travels to the lung – than pulmonary edema, and that what happened to the woman could not have been foreseen by the doctors who were charged with caring for her.  The Plaintiffs countered that the doctors failed to properly address the woman’s erratic blood pressure and allowed a dangerous buildup of fluid in her lungs that caused her heart to stop beating.

The jury’s award included $9.8 million in economic damages for the woman’s future medical care needs and $18 million each to the woman and her husband for their pain, suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress.

A Massachusetts jury awarded just under $30 million this month to a now-eleven-year-old girl who suffered a devastating brain injury in utero. In September of 2004, the girl’s mother presented to the hospital while 28 weeks pregnant complaining of decreased fetal movement. She was admitted for monitoring at 11:00 p.m. on September 5th and, until 5:30 p.m. on September 6th, everything was fine.

Soon after, however, the baby’s heart rate dropped dramatically. The on-call attending physician – who was at home at the time – was called but decided not to come to the hospital. The child’s attorneys argued that this was an emergency and that the child needed to be delivered by emergency cesarean section immediately. Unfortunately, that did not happen in a timely manner. At approximately 9:20 p.m., the baby’s heart rate dropped so low that her brain was deprived of sufficient oxygen for at least eight minutes. The lawyers presented evidence that when the baby finally was delivered by cesarean section, she essentially was not alive and had to be resuscitated.

As the result of the brain injury, the child does not walk or talk, is blind and has to be fed through a gastric (feeding) tube. She also has a tracheotomy to assist with breathing which must be suctioned several times per hour. The jury’s verdict was comprised, in part, of $1.04 million for past medical bills, $16.1 million for future medical and other care needs, $1.25 million for lost earning capacity and $11.5 million for past and future physical and mental pain and suffering, disfigurement, embarrassment, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.

The mother to a son born with cerebral palsy will eventually receive the full judgment of $10 million awarded to her by a Florida jury for medical malpractice, but she’ll have to wait for half of it. In 2003, while six months pregnant, the woman was to be transported after one hospital determined it didn’t have the right equipment to handle a premature baby and another said it lacked specialists for extremely premature births. Both of those hospitals, and doctors from each, were originally involved, but settled for a total of $1.4 million. Ultimately, however, the woman gave birth on the way to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando while in an ambulance. The child survived but suffered severe brain damage as a result of a lack of oxygen. In a medical negligence case, a jury found the Florida ambulance provider, EVAC, negligent for both the care they provided and for accepting the initial transport order.

After the $10 million judgment was handed down in the malpractice case, EVAC asked a judge to throw out the verdict or, alternatively, reduce the judgment amount. EVAC argued they could not refuse an order given by a doctor in the emergency room. A settlement was ultimately reached whereby EVAC will pay $5 million immediately (their insurance cap) and then sue its insurance company for bad faith and have it pay the rest.

Medical mistakes are not always the result of physician negligence. As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I have handled a number of cases involving medical errors attributable to other sources. To see some of the cases I have handled, click here.

An Illinois hospital, a nurse midwife and the nurse’s employer have agreed to a $9.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by family who alleged that they were responsible for causing their son to be born with cerebral palsy. The woman was admitted to the hospital in labor and the nurse failed to get a doctor when the woman requested one after she began experiencing complications.

As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I have successfully handled a number of cerebral palsy and other birth injury medical malpractice cases. These cases are always tragic as they permanently affect the life of a child and his or her family. Often times, these tragedies can be prevented with proper care that meets the standard of care.

A Montgomery County jury has awarded $1.85 million to the parents of a baby who died three days after delivery from complications of internal bleeding caused by the method of delivery. The women arrived at Frederick Memorial Hospital for a scheduled, induced labor 41 weeks into her pregnancy. She pushed for three hours early the next morning, but the baby’s head was too large to pass through her pelvis, a condition known as cephalopelvic disproportion. The baby could have been safely delivered by c-section, but the obstetrician twice tried to forcibly pull the baby through the birth canal using a vacuum extractor. This injured the baby and caused his death.

As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I frequently handle medical malpractice cases in Baltimore, Maryland and other places involving obstetrical mistakes. To see some of the cases I have handled, click here . In fact, I handled one of the first cases in Maryland to successfully argue that it was malpractice to use a vacuum extractor on a premature infant.

In a case like this, it is important for the doctor to weigh the risks versus the benefits. The risk of a c-section is low compared to the risk of keeping a baby in the uterus while the mother is having extreme difficulty delivering vaginally.

A Seattle hospital must pay the family of a girl about $4.25 million after the hospital’s negligence during her delivery caused severe brain damage. Approximately $2.5 million of the money is to cover future medical expenses for the 5-year-old girl who cannot walk or talk, must be fed through a gastric tube and suffers from cerebral palsy. About $350,000 is meant to cover previous medical expenses, and the remaining $1.4 million covers general damages. After three days of deliberation, the jury ruled in partial favor of the hospital, rejecting an additional $3.75 million for the girl and about $4 million for her parents.

The family blamed the hospital for at least 20 minutes of oxygen deprivation to the girl after the placenta prematurely separated from the mother’s uterine wall. At 8:25 p.m. on May 30, 2003, the mother checked into the hospital with contractions; it was a day before her scheduled C-section. The woman had a history of placental abruption – a serious complication that can deprive the baby of oxygen and cause heavy bleeding in the mother – but the obstetrician went home for dinner without having been notified of the high-risk case. When the fetal monitor began to show signs the baby was in distress – around 8:45 p.m. – the nurses did not immediately call the obstetrician. At 9 p.m., the baby was “down,” meaning her heart rate had dipped below 90 beats per minute. A normal heart rate in a baby is between 130 and 190 beats per minute. Nurses called the obstetrician, who arrived at 9:18 p.m. and immediately performed an emergency C-section, he said. The child was born lifeless at 9:24 p.m. after suffering at least 20 minutes of asphyxiation but was resuscitated.

I’ve successfully handled a number of medical malpractice cases involving fetal distress causing injury and, as I have repeatedly said, they are always the most upsetting cases because they can be prevented in certain circumstances. Doctors have known for decades that when a fetus is observed to be in distress, there is only a very limited time to get the child out. In certain situations, like when a fetus’ heart rate drops dangerously law, the standard of care is to get the child out within 20 minutes. In this case, waiting to call the obstetrician was inexcusable.

A Minnesota jury in medical malpractice case has rendered an award of almost $1 million to the family of a child injured during labor and delivery approximately five years ago. The jury reached its verdict in the medical malpractice lawsuit late last week, finding that the obstetrician was negligent by not recognizing the fetus was so large it should have been delivered by Caesarean Section. As a result, the child, who weighed more than 10 pounds at birth, suffered injuries that unfortunately will affect her for the rest of her life. The jury’s award totaled $975,501, consisting of separate amounts for past medical expenses, bodily and mental harm, future damages and mental harm, and loss of future earning capacity. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here.

During the delivery of the child, the nerves in her shoulder were injured because the obstetrician had to pull the baby so hard get her out of the birth canal. The injury is called Erb’s Palsy, and occurs when the nerves of the shoulder are stretched or torn, causing permanent loss of sensation and control of the arm. Unfortunately, the injury will cause lifelong limitations and significantly reduce future earnings. The defense was that the size of the fetus can’t be easily determined and that C-Section brings with it significant complication risks. However, the Plaintiffs were able to point out that a radiology report said that measurements of the fetus were “suggestive of a macrosomic fetus.” Macrosomia is a medical term describing a fetus or newborn of excessive weight. In a situation, the standard of care is to do a C-Section to prevent exactly what happened here.

As a Maryland attorney who handles a large number of malpractice suits, I have successfully handled several of these cases in Baltimore and surrounding areas. Typically, the fetus is large or in an awkward position in the uterus. Instead of performing well-establish maneuvers to safely get the fetus out, or converting the vaginal delivery to a C-Section, the doctor continues to pull the fetus in an effort try to deliver the fetus. This tears the nerves in the shoulder, forever causing a floppy arm.

A New York jury on Tuesday ordered a hospital to pay a former patient more than $17 million in a medical malpractice case. The woman claimed a Caesarean delivery in 2003 damaged her organs and resulted in the removal of the transplanted pancreas she received in 1995 to treat her diabetes. A copy of an article regarding the case can be found here.

Injuries during childbirth are always tragic because they turn a usually joyous event into a catastrophy.

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