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Florida Birth Injury Lawsuit Demands $10 Million in Damages

medical malpractice statisticsOn December 17, 2013 a birth injury lawsuit against attending obstetric staff at Palms West Hospital was filed in Florida Circuit Court. The suit alleged that defendants failed to properly monitor the plaintiff during delivery, failed to identify fetal bradycardia in a timely manner and failed to detect signs of fetal distress.  The case was brought by the parents, both individually and as next of friends of the minor child, who has allegedly suffered permanent injuries due to the defendant’s negligent acts.

The plaintiffs are seeking in excess of $10 million in damages against Palms West Hospital, alleging health care professionals should be found liable for committing medical negligence.

Birth injury lawsuit alleges malpractice

The complaint states that the Florida mother was hospitalized at Palms West Hospital for delivery of her daughter on January 3, 2011. As with any medical facility, the hospital’s doctors, nurses and employees owed a duty to exercise reasonable care in providing care and treatment to patients in their obstetrical unit.

The plaintiffs allege this duty to provide reasonable medical care was breached in the following ways:

  • Failing to monitor the fetus properly to assess wellbeing of the baby
  • Failing to evaluate the mother’s cervical effacement and dilation
  • Failing to identify fetal bradycardia in a timely fashion
  • Failing to alert a physician promptly
  • Failing to detect symptoms of fetal distress

As a direct and proximate result of this alleged birth injury malpractice, the minor plaintiff sustained a brain injury that has caused her to suffer “bodily injury, pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of the capacity for the enjoyment of life, expense of hospitalization, medical and nursing care and treatment, loss of the ability to earn money and continuing aggravation of previously existing conditions.”

Fetal bradycardia is defined as an abnormally low heart rate, and is often one of the first symptoms of distress in the baby.

Fetal bradycardia can result from a number of causes, including:

  • Fetal head compression
  • Umbilical cord occlusion or compression
  • Maternal exertion
  • Hypoxia (lack of oxygen) caused by myocardial depression
  • Stimulation of the stretch receptors in aortic arch and / or carotid sinus wall

Asphyxial stresses on the fetus can have catastrophic consequences, including brain trauma, leaving a child at increased risk for cerebral palsy or Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).

Detecting warning signs that may result in fetal brain damage

Delivery room health care personnel are charged with the task of monitoring both mother and child for heart rate changes or other indicators that may put an infant at risk for injury.

Complications that may increase the risk include:

  • Gestational diabetes in the mother
  • Uterine rupture
  • Umbilical cord problems
  • Mismanaged shoulder dystocia
  • Changes in baby’s heart rate
  • Decreased levels of amniotic fluid
  • Hypertension disorders such as preeclampsia
  • Abrupted placenta

The exact nature of the minor plaintiff’s brain damage isn’t detailed in this birth injury lawsuit, but the majority of cases carry major ramifications for the health and mental development of the child. Some may have cognitive impairments, suffer seizures, and have vision or hearing problems or difficulty with motor coordination.

Obstetricians, nurses and other medical professionals must respond swiftly and appropriately if signs of fetal distress are apparent as a failure to do so may result in permanent birth injuries.