For more information of confidential assistance
Call 800-306-3180

Massachusetts Mother Files Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit

gavel and scales

A Milford, Massachusetts mother has filed a cerebral palsy lawsuit against two Puerto Rico doctors on behalf of her daughter, who is a minor. She claims her child developed spastic cerebral palsy because of the negligence of the healthcare team that delivered her. Spastic cerebral palsy is hypertonic and accounts for 70-80% of cerebral palsy cases. The stress on the body can cause related conditions such as hip dislocation, scoliosis and limb deformities.

On November 21, 1996, the mother went to her first prenatal appointment at her doctor’s office in Puerto Rico. At the time, she was 35 years old and obese, weighing in at 295 pounds. Her blood pressure was 130/60. She had a history of nine pregnancies, including three deliveries and five abortions. The doctor determined her due date was July 16, 1997 and scheduled a follow-up appointment for a few weeks later, on December 7, 1996. She was not placed on a special diet to manage her weight.

Cerebral palsy lawsuit details

The mother attended her second prenatal visit on December 7, 1996 as planned. She weighed in at 291 pounds and her blood pressure was 120/80. On December 18, 1996, she visited the doctor for a third time. Her weight was now 293 pounds, her blood pressure was 110/80 and her fundus height was 10.5 cm. A sonogram was performed on December 23, 1996, establishing her pregnancy at 10 weeks and three days of gestation, with an estimated due date of July 16, 1997.

She continued to diligently attend her prenatal visits until May 12, 1997, when she was hospitalized due to premature labor. The mother reported experiencing pain in her pelvic and lower back area. At the time, her weight was 290 pounds and her gestational age was 34 weeks. According to medical records, she was discharged on May 16, 1997 a diagnosis of a urinary tract infection and premature labor.

On May 30, 1997, she was admitted to the hospital again. The medical records indicate she was experiencing irregular contractions and her membranes were intact. The hospital staff described her as a term pregnancy, which was incorrect as she was only in the 33rd week of her pregnancy. At 6:30am, without a physical evaluation, her doctor phoned in an order for the nursing staff to administer Dextrose at 5% and Pitocin 30cc stat. According to the medical charts, they were administered by 7:30am.

Shortly afterwards at 8am, the doctor physically examined the mother, noting that she had uterine contractions and a fetal heart rate of 140. A vaginal delivery was planned, but the doctor didn’t establish or document her stage of delivery and effacement. Regardless, Pitocin was increased to 60cc and according to her chart it was steadily increased to 80cc until 11am. By then, her doctor had evaluated her and called the operating room to perform a Cesarean section, as labor had failed to progress due to occiput transverse presentation.

She was transferred to the operating room at noon, anesthesia was started at 12:35pm and surgery began at 12:45pm. The baby was born at 12:58pm. The amniotic fluid was clear, her Apgar score was five at one minute and seven at five minutes and she needed endotracheal intubation and assisted ventilation due to impaired respiratory effort.

Problems with delivery

The child had a strong cry at first, but suddenly turned cyanotic, with no cry or activity and went limp. She had to be suctioned, bagged with a prernie mask, intubated and bagged with oxygen via an endotracheal tube for five minutes. The medical records note that she was then extubated and transferred to the nursery, which was a departure from the standard of care, as she was at an increased risk for hypoxia, hypoglycemia, respiratory distress, hypothermia, apnea and infections.

A chest x-ray revealed respiratory distress syndrome, but a surfactant was not administered and arterial blood gases were not taken. When she was admitted to the nursery, the baby was hypothermic, hypoactive and limp. A few hours later she was intubated, bagged and transferred to another hospital. The lawsuit claims the doctor and the medical staff deviated from the standard of care, which ultimately caused the baby to develop spastic diplegia cerebral palsy.

The child has since suffered numerous health issues, such as developing bilateral pneumothoraces, chronic lung disease and suffering cardiac arrest — just to name a few. She is now a severely and permanently disabled child with cerebral palsy and a host of other disabilities, defects and abnormalities.

The mother claims her child has not been able to receive sufficient care or therapy to help manage her health conditions, because of the family’s limited financial resources.

  1. U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, Migdalia Arroyo Picart vs. Hospital Metropolitano Dr. Pila No.: Ponce, Inc.