Obese mother gains another 60 lb before delivery
AN OBESE WOMAN with a family history of diabetes had previously given birth to a large baby. Even though she expressed her concern that this fetus would also be macrosomic, the ObGyn planned for spontaneous vaginal delivery. At 39 weeks’ gestation, after gaining 60 lb, she went to the hospital requesting induction of labor; the ObGyn reluctantly agreed. Labor was lengthy, forceps-assisted delivery was performed, and a shoulder dystocia was encountered. The baby was born with respiratory distress, a brachial plexus injury, bruises on his right cheek and both ears, and multiple rib fractures. After transfer to a children’s hospital, surgical exploration revealed avulsion of the C6 root nerve from the spinal cord and damage to C5, C7, and C8 nerve roots. Several surgical repairs and physical therapy have led to some improvement, but the child is permanently injured. His right arm is shorter than the left, his right hand is smaller, and he has less strength and range of motion in the right arm. He also has excessive tearing in the right eye and his right eyelid droops.
PARENTS’ CLAIM The ObGyn failed to recognize the risk of delivering a macrosomic baby and did not consider cesarean delivery. The brachial plexus injury was due to downward traction applied during delivery.
PHYSICIAN’S DEFENSE There was no negligence. The brachial plexus injury was not caused by downward traction.
VERDICT A $4.1 million Indiana verdict was returned, but was reduced to the state cap of $1.25 million.