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Medical Verdicts


Fetal death follows decreased movements

May 2005 · Vol. 17, No. 5

<court>Stamford Judicial District (Conn) Superior Court</court>

Noting decreased fetal movement, a woman at 35 weeks’ gestation called her Ob/Gyn, who instructed her to report to the hospital. After performing an examination and nonreactive stress test, the physician discharged the woman, telling her to call if she did not feel 6 strong fetal movements upon returning home.

The woman called that evening, reporting just 2 light fetal movements. The doctor advised her to remain home.

The patient called the next morning to report pain near her pubic bone, at which time a different physician told her to call back if the pain worsened. When her pain intensified, she opted to report directly to the hospital, where she was admitted to labor and delivery.

An ultrasound examination 30 minutes later revealed intrauterine fetal death. Upon delivery, a nuchal cord was discovered.

In suing, the woman claimed that, on the day of her first call, her Ob/Gyn should have admitted her to the hospital due to a questionable nonstress test. At that time, she argued, a biophysical profile and other tests of fetal well-being should have been performed.

  • The parties settled for $1.5 million.

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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