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Medical Verdicts


Missed oligohydramnios blamed for cerebral palsy

April 2004 · Vol. 16, No. 4

<court>Undisclosed County (Mich) Circuit Court</court>

Following a failed induction of labor, a woman at 41 3/7 weeks’ gestation was discharged home and told to return in 4 days. Two days later, however, she returned to the hospital in spontaneous labor.

Fetal heart tracings at that time indicated a sinusoidal pattern, as well as significant bradycardia and decelerations. Monitoring continued to indicate fetal compromise throughout labor and delivery, which occurred 2 hours after admission. The child now suffers from cerebral palsy and retardation.

In suing, the parents noted that the amniotic fluid level was not assessed at the time of the woman’s induction. They claimed that test would have revealed oligohydramnios, which would have prompted physicians to keep her in the hospital. Had a biophysical profile been performed before the discharge, they alleged, the patient would have delivered without incident later that day.

The defendants argued that the fetal heart tracings never indicated fetal distress. Further, they claimed the infant’s injuries stemmed not from the events surrounding her birth, but rather from Coxsackievirus infection prior to labor and delivery.

  • The jury awarded the plaintiff $3.2 million.

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.

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