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Plaintiff Blames Son’s Birth Injuries on Negligent Delivery

baby reaching for father's fingerA North Carolina mother has filed a birth injury lawsuit against the New York medical center where her son was born, as well as the medical practitioners that cared for her while she was pregnant and during the birth.

The mother is suing the defendants for alleged medical malpractice, lack of informed consent and gross negligence and reckless conduct.

Pitocin induced labor

On Jan. 29, 2007, the mother was admitted to a Watertown, N.Y. hospital at around 9:40 a.m. for labor induction. At the time, she was 41 weeks and one day pregnant. Despite the fact that her cervix was noted unfavorable, misoprostol was administered for cervical ripening. An electric fetal monitor was fastened to the mother and fetal heart tracing began at approx. 10:01 a.m.

Later in the evening, at 6:15 p.m., uterine irritability was noted, but the certified nurse midwife still ordered another dose of misoprostol. A few hours later, at 12:12 a.m. on Jan. 30, a spontaneous rupture of the membranes occurred and meconium — the sticky, thick, dark green substance that is the baby’s first feces — was noted. Pitocin was ordered and administered nine minutes later at 12:21 a.m. and increased twice afterwards at 12:42 a.m. and 1:52 An intrauterine pressure catheter was put in place around 1:00 a.m.

During the rest of the first stage of labor, there are periods of more than five contractions with a less than 10-minute period and less than one minute resting tone between contractions, demonstrating uterine hyper-stimulation that was secondary to the dispersion of Pitocin.

Baby diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy

Around 5:23 a.m., intrauterine pressure during contractions began to exceed 100 mmHg, which was indicative of excessive intrauterine pressure. The mother’s blood pressure was not checked again after 6:03 a.m., but the certified nurse midwife began instructing her to push at roughly 6:20 a.m.

Stage two of labor began around 8:50 a.m. At this time, the midwife told the mother to push and this instruction was followed by a prolonged deceleration in the fetal heart rate to the 90s. The uterine hyper-stimulation continued throughout the second stage of labor, during which intrauterine pressure continuously exceeded 100 mmHG during contractions.

The mother’s doctor arrived at 9:52 a.m. and delivered the baby boy using an obstetrical vacuum that was applied to his head. The child was born alive at 10:02 a.m. and the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck at the time of delivery. He had APGAR scores of 2/4/6 and the presence of meconium as noted.

While the baby boy was born alive, he demonstrated no respiratory effort or muscle tone at the time of delivery. His neonatal physician noted that this did not improve with tactile stimulation. A doctor performed bag-mask ventilation and tracheal suctioning shortly after his birth.

Brain injury at birth caused by oxygen deprivation

Later the next day, seizure activity was noted. The baby was intubated, placed on a ventilator and given phenobarbital. On Feb. 1, he was transferred to a Syracuse hospital and a CT scan on his brain revealed he had suffered frontal lobe damage. The baby was diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and permanent neurological deficits. He is expected to require extensive medical care for the rest of his life.

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is a brain injury that is caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain. It can cause a host of severe health issues, including developmental delay, epilepsy, neurodevelopmental delay, cognitive impairment and motor impairment.

The severity of the damage can typically not be understood until the child is three or four years old.

  1. Seattle’s Children Hospital, Birth Asphyxia,

  2. Medscape, Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy