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Medical Verdicts


Mother questions role of seizures in cerebral palsy

August 2002 · Vol. 14, No. 8

<court>District of Columbia (DC) Superior Court</court>

When a 33-year-old woman with a history of epilepsy and grand mal seizures became pregnant, she sought care from an Ob/Gyn and a neurologist to keep her free of seizures during the pregnancy. However, due to recurrent seizures late in the gestation, the patient underwent an emergency cesarean delivery. The infant was born with mild cerebral palsy, motor skill deficits, learning impairment, and language and speech delays.

Also, during delivery the physicians discovered that the woman had suffered bilateral hip fractures when she fell during an epileptic seizure, necessitating hip replacement surgery.

In suing, the woman claimed that the infant’s neurological damage was a result of hypoxic ischemia in utero while the mother was seizing. Further, she alleged that the physicians failed to diagnose her hip fractures in a timely fashion.

The doctors contended that the patient did not consistently take her seizure medication. In addition, they claimed, the infant’s brain damage was not caused by the seizures because the fetal heart rate tracings were normal throughout the pregnancy.

  • The case settled for $3.5 million.

The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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