Fetal demise follows shoulder dystocia associated with macrosomia
<court>Jefferson Parish (La) District Court</court>
One week prior to delivery, a gravida underwent an ultrasound, which placed her infant’s estimated fetal weight at 8 lb, 4 oz. During her pregnancy, the patient had gained over 50 lb.
In the second stage of labor, the patient pushed for more than 2 hours. The doctor used forceps from a +2 station to deliver the fetal head. Shoulder dystocia was encountered and a variety of maneuvers were used, including fundal pressure, thus delaying delivery. The baby ultimately died of asphyxia. The infant’s birth weight was 11 lb, 5 oz.
In suing, the mother alleged that the doctor underestimated the baby’s weight and panicked when she encountered the shoulder dystocia. Further, the physician allegedly asked 2 nurses untrained in dystocia delivery to pull on the baby’s head with the forceps.
Expert defense witnesses contended that the baby died in utero before the head was delivered due to a short umbilical cord. The defendant maintained that when forceps were applied, the fetal monitor did not show the baby in distress.
- The jury awarded the plaintiffs $900,000. Due to Louisiana’s Medical Malpractice Cap provisions, damages were reduced to $500,000.
The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts (www.verdictslaska.com). While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.