Physicians And Nurses Pay $4,000,000 Settlement In Claim Concerning Infant With Cerebral Palsy

 By: J. Hernandez
The fetal heart rate monitor provides physicians and nurses with useful data relating to the wellbeing of the unborn baby as the mother is in labor. The data from the monitor is used to track whether the baby is doing well or is in a compromised situation. If such warning signs arise measures need to be taken immediately to counteract the situation or to deliver the infant. Not acting right away can lead to significant and lifelong harm to the baby. By not acting right away physicians and nurses might be acting in a manner that fails to satisfy the standard of care. If this does result in harm to the baby, these physicians and nurses may be liable for medical malpractice.

Look at a published claim regarding what had been an uneventful pregnancy, the expectant mother was 13 days past her due date. She went to the hospital for the planned delivery of her baby. After her admission to the hospital, one of the physicians ruptured her membranes in an attempt to enhance her labor. An entry in her chart documented that there was "scant to no amniotic fluid" observed. At some point the fetal heart rate monitor began to exhibit non-reassuring tracings. But, six hours after that medication was administered so as to increase her contractions. Despite the fact that this drug has a known risk leading to hyperstimulation, the administration of the drug was regularly increased throughout the next few hours.

During this period, the unborn child's heart rate exhibited marked late decelerations, an increasing baseline, in addition to intervals of decreasing variability the medication did nothing to further her labor. On more than one occasion, two nurses attempted to deal with the decelerations yet neither nurse made any attempt to stop or even decrease the drug being used. Roughly 7 hours subsequent to the first time the medication was given, the fetal heart rate started steadily rising. This was a signal that the baby was seeking to compensate for a decrease in the supply of oxygen.

Nearly 4 hours following the first signs of fetal distree the obstetrician attempted a vacuum extraction. The obstetrician made multiple attempts (nine in total) at vacuum extraction. As this doctor attempted the vacuum extraction, the fetal heart rate readings worsened to a level suggesting terminal bradycardia. When this happened this physician finally ordered an emergency C-section. This doctor delivered the infant a little more than 1 hour following beginning attempts at vacuum extraction.

The woman's records documented the presence of dense meconium. Upon being born, the baby did not have a heart rate and was not breathing. Resuscitation attempts succeeded in reviving the child. The newborn was transferred to NICU unit where the baby started having seizures. The infant was subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy caused by an prolonged period of oxygen deprivation. The law firm that handled the resulting lawsuit published that the case settled for $4.0 million.
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