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Medical Verdicts


Did cesarean delay cause hypoxic injury?

January 2005 · Vol. 17, No. 1

<court>Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Common Pleas Court</court>

After a nonstress test at her obstetrician’s office was nonreassuring, a gravida was sent to a nearby medical center, where an emergency cesarean was ordered. An ultrasound examination conducted at a different hospital 2 days prior was also nonreassuring, but no action was taken at that time.

Following the order to perform an emergency cesarean, 1 hour and 20 minutes passed before anesthesia was ready. The child, delivered 40 minutes later, suffered hypoxic injury leading to severe cerebral palsy. Age 17 at the time of trial, he has no use of his limbs and suffers severe mental retardation.

The plaintiffs sued the hospital that conducted the ultrasound, alleging negligence. They also sued the obstetrician and the medical center where the cesarean was performed, claiming delivery was unacceptably delayed. Had the child been delivered in a timely manner, they argued, his cerebral palsy could have been avoided.

The physician and medical center claimed the child’s injury occurred well before delivery, and an earlier cesarean would not have changed the outcome.

  • The hospital performing the ultrasound settled prior to trial. The jury awarded plaintiffs $30 million against the obstetrician and delivering medical center.

The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn (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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