Long-Term Birth Injury Blamed on Negligent Hospital Staff
A couple that has filed a birth injury lawsuit in Nevada alleges a series of errors and negligence on the part of hospital staff led to severe, long-term injuries in their daughter. The child was diagnosed with a serious brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation at birth. The plaintiffs claim that lack of appropriate care for the unborn child led to the oxygen deprivation and subsequent birth injury.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada on January 27. In the complaint, the plaintiffs state the mother entered the Mike O’Callaghan Federal Medical Center on April 1, 2014 for the induction of labor. She was 38 weeks pregnant at that time. During the course of the labor, a fetal monitor was placed on the mother plaintiff to monitor the baby’s heart rate.
Lawsuit focuses on baby’s heart tones
At the beginning of labor, the baby showed good heart tones without any notable accelerations or decelerations in heart rate. However, as the labor progressed, deceleration of heart tones were noted that became longer and more pronounced over time. The mother plaintiff states that she requested a Cesarean delivery when the heart tones changed, but was told the only anesthesiologist in the facility was currently in the operating room.
Another anesthesiologist was called and expected to arrive approximately 40 minutes later. During that wait, the plaintiff claims the heart tones continued to show minimal variability and prolonged deep deceleration, indicating possible fetal distress.
The baby was delivered via Cesarean on April 3, 2014, at 3:04 a.m., more than three hours after the mother plaintiff had requested her C-section.
Delayed birth resulted in no breathing or heartbeat
At the time of birth, the baby was given an Apgar score of zero, which was repeated at five and 10 minutes after birth. The baby had no breathing or heartbeat and was limp at that time. A pulse was recognized more than 30 minutes later and a pediatrician was eventually summoned. The pediatrician promptly had the newborn transferred to Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she was treated by a pediatric neurologist.
At Sunrise Hospital, the baby was diagnosed as suffering from severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. It was also determined the baby had hypoglycemia at birth, liver dysfunction, coagulopathy and metabolic acidosis.
About hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is the leading cause of death and disability in infants. The injury can lead to a variety of impairments, including epilepsy, cognitive impairment, developmental delays and cerebral palsy. The extent of the impairment cannot usually be determined accurately until the child is 3-4 years old. Some children suffering from this injury will require round-the-clock medical attention over their lifetime and may never be able to walk, talk or even eat normally.
The parents of the injured child allege the injuries were due to negligence by the hospital staff. Specifically, the plaintiffs claim the doctors and staff overseeing the labor failed to recognize the need for an expedited delivery and have anesthesiology services immediately available to the mother plaintiff. The staff also failed to have a neonatal resuscitation team in place or provide resuscitation efforts promptly after the baby was born, plaintiffs state.
As a result of their child’s injuries and subsequent brain damage, the plaintiffs are seeking damages totaling $25 million.