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Delayed C-Section Prompts South Carolina Birth Injury Lawsuit

Birth Injury Lawsuit – Delayed C-Section Leads to DisfigurementA new birth injury lawsuit alleges that medical services to active military personnel at Beaufort Memorial Hospital in South Carolina were negligent, resulting in the permanent injuries of a minor girl. The parents, residents of North Carolina, argue that malpractice occurred when doctors failed to perform a Cesarean section at the first signs of fetal distress.

The medical malpractice claim was filed on April 22, 2014 in the U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina (Beaufort), where the plaintiffs are demanding monetary damages for their daughter’s pain and suffering, disability, physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of capacity of the enjoyment of life, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of earning capacity.

Failure to perform a timely C-section

According to allegations in the complaint, the attending OB-GYN Dr. Ajala deviated from the applicable standard of care by “failing to recognize and/or to appreciate the significance of the worsening prolonged and deepening variable fetal decelerations, failing to recognize and/or to appreciate the significance of the rising fetal heart baseline and change in fetal heart rate variability from moderate to minimal variability, failing to discontinue the use of Pitocin due to the persistent worsening variables decelerations that extended down into the 70s, and failing to perform a C-section at the first sign of fetal distress.”

The minor plaintiff was owed a standard of care and treatment which is recognized as appropriate by reasonably prudent health care providers who have the same level of skill and training, states the birth injury lawsuit.  At the time of the alleged medical negligence, the plaintiffs were residents of Beaufort, South Carolina where Jocelyn Ajala, M.D. is employed at Beaufort Naval Hospital, operated by the federal government.

The parents contend that just after their baby girl’s delivery in 2011, medical personnel noted bruising on her head in addition to edema in her eyelids. About five months later, the mother claims she observed some asymmetries in her daughter’s movements, prompting her to seek a medical evaluation. A brain MRI of the infant showed a  middle cerebral artery area of cystic encephalomalacia, which indicated an in utero infarction.

As a result of Dr. Ajala’s negligence in timely responding to an irregular heart beat and other signs of fetal distress, alleges the complaint, the minor plaintiff’s condition has continued to deteriorate. The little girl will likely need extensive rehabilitation and various medical procedures and need ongoing care. Therefore, they believe that the U.S. government is vicariously liable for the purported negligence and misconduct of their naval hospital medical employee.  The complaint includes the expert opinion of another doctor who supported charges of negligence and breach of duty.

Furthermore, Dr. Ajala was in charge of supervising all nurses, technicians, and other delivery room staff at the time of the injury. The personal injury/malpractice suit is requesting actual and consequential damages and costs and any other monetary relief the court deems proper.

Risks of fetal distress

Consistent electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) throughout the early stages of labor and delivery are critical in detecting signs of fetal distress. Any sudden changes in fetal heartbeat may indicate the baby is starved of oxygen or otherwise in danger. Swift action is necessary to ensure prolonged oxygen deprivation doesn’t occur, which can often result in permanent brain damage, HIE and a later diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

In some situations, an emergency C-section is ordered to help mitigate such risks of fetal asphyxia.