Did delayed cesarean delivery cause child’s brain damage?
SEVERAL HOURS AFTER A WOMAN ARRIVED at a hospital in labor, the fetal heart rate dropped to 60 beats/min. The on-call ObGyn performed a cesarean delivery 90 minutes later. The child has permanent neurologic disabilities, receives nourishment through a gastric tube, and will require full-time assistance for life.
PATIENT’S CLAIM The 90-minute delay in performing cesarean delivery caused brain damage. A compressed umbilical cord reduced the oxygen supply, compromised the fetal heart rate, and led to brain damage. There were delays in notifying the physician, assembling the surgical team, and taking the mother to the operating room. The ObGyn failed to inform the mother she could have an expedited cesarean section under local anesthesia.
DEFENDANTS’ DEFENSE The ObGyn claimed that a placental infection caused the child’s brain damage. The hospital claimed that the physician was called immediately, the surgical team was gathered as quickly as possible, and cesarean delivery was performed in a timely manner.
VERDICT An $8.5 million New Jersey settlement was reached, including $6 million for the child and $2.5 million for the parents.