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Doctor Negligence Alleged in Birth Injury Malpractice Lawsuit

birth injury malpractice lawsuitA mother and father have filed a birth injury malpractice lawsuit against Stephanie McNelis, M.D. of The Austin Diagnostic Clinic. The complaint alleges that the doctor negligently administered a medication to the mother while she was pregnant, which directly caused the child’s severe and permanent birth defects. The case  is currently proceeding in the Judicial District Court of Travis County, Texas.

Doctor administered methotrexate

According to the birth injury malpractice lawsuit, the mother went to Dr. McNelis for prenatal care on June 15, 2012. The doctor requested a transvaginal ultrasonography to assess the state of the pregnancy. The results of the test revealed that the pregnancy was intrauterine, or normal, rather than ectopic. The test further revealed that the fallopian tubes did not have any abnormal masses. On June 18, the patient’s hCG levels were recorded as being normal.

On June 19, the defendant diagnosed the mother with an ectopic pregnancy and informed her that the pregnancy needed to be terminated. An ectopic pregnancy is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the fertilized egg implants in a place other than the uterus, such as a fallopian tube, cervix, ovary, or abdominal cavity. In this type of pregnancy, the fertilized egg has no chance for survival and various anatomical structures of the mother can become critically damaged. There is a possibility of severe hemorrhaging, which can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.

To terminate the ectopic pregnancy, the defendant administered a dose of methotrexate on June 19. Methotrexate is a medication usually intended to treat rheumatoid arthritis and certain types of cancers. It is a very potent medication that has significant potential for life-threatening problems. However, it may also be used to terminate an ectopic pregnancy. Medical professionals typically administer no more than two doses of methotrexate by injection; however, sometimes three doses may be used.

The lawsuit alleges that the doctor is negligent for authorizing a second dose of methotrexate before ordering a second ultrasound to determine if the first injection successfully terminated the pregnancy. The second dosage was administered on June 26. The plaintiff’s hCG levels were evaluated again on July 3, and were discovered to be stable. Since hCG levels should decrease with the termination of a pregnancy, the doctor decided to order another ultrasound. The results of the second ultrasound were the same as the first ultrasound; that the plaintiff had a viable intrauterine pregnancy, not an ectopic pregnancy.

Baby born with numerous malformations

On January 25, 2013, the patient gave birth to her child, who weighed 4 pounds, 7 ounces. The child was immediately taken to an intensive care unit, where she stayed for several months. The minor child was diagnosed with Fetal Aminopterin Methotrexate syndrome, which allegedly occurred due to the injections of methotrexate. This severe and permanent medical condition has resulted in numerous anatomical malformations. The child is missing bones in her limbs and she has no toes. She suffers from malformations of the skull, face, and limbs, and her tongue, face, and jaw are shaped abnormally.

Doctor negligence cited by parents

According to the complaint, the defendant failed to properly manage the pregnancy and failed to administer the appropriate tests before misdiagnosing a viable pregnancy as ectopic. The lawsuit claims the defendant “breached the applicable standard of care by administering methotrexate injections” before administering a pelvic sonogram, which had been recommended by the patient’s radiologist.

The plaintiffs demand compensation for the alleged doctor negligence that caused their child’s catastrophic birth defects. They seek compensatory damages for pain and suffering, emotional anguish, physical impairment, disfigurement, and medical expenses.