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Medical Verdicts


Did delayed cesarean lead to infant’s death?

July 2003 · Vol. 15, No. 7

<court>Pierce County (Wash) Superior Court</court>

A woman at 33 weeks’ gestation presented to her doctor with complaints of headaches, blurred vision, and excessive vomiting on a daily basis, as well as an elevated blood pressure. The doctor ordered bed rest.

During a routine checkup 1 month later, results from a stress test raised concerns about fetal bradycardia. The fetal heart rate had dropped from 110 to 50 beats per minute. The obstetrician told the woman to go home, pack a bag, and return to the hospital. Thirty-five minutes later, the baby was delivered via cesarean with no discernible heartbeat. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful and the child was deemed stillborn.

In suing, the woman alleged that she should have been admitted to the hospital at 33 weeks’ gestation when she showed signs of hypertension, edema, and proteinuria—symptoms that are indicative of preeclampsia. Further, she claimed that she should have been referred to a perinatologist.

  • The case settled for $750,000.

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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