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Medical Verdicts


Did failure to note fetal distress cause hypoxia, brain damage?

November 2003 · Vol. 15, No. 11

<court>Palestine County (Tex) 349th Judicial District Court</court>

During a patient’s labor, a nurse anesthetist administered an epidural spinal block for pain. An Ob/Gyn examined the patient soon after, then left. Shortly after the doctor departed, fetal distress occurred, but the nurses allegedly failed to notice the change in fetal status.

When the baby was delivered approximately 2 hours later, she was limp, apneic, and had a heart rate of 40. Her Apgar scores were 1 at 1 minute, 3 at 5 minutes, and 4 at 10 minutes. The cord pH was abnormal at 6.71. The child now suffers from severe brain damage due to hypoxia.

The mother sued, claiming the doctor and nurses waited too long to deliver the baby and failed to recognize the fetal distress. She further argued that a fetal scalp electrode should have been used but was not.

Hospital staff contended that the baby’s brain injury stemmed from a preexisting maternal condition.

  • The case settled for $10,025,000.

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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