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Medical Verdicts

Vaginal delivery leads to quadriplegia

June 2005 · Vol. 17, No. 6
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<court>Suffolk County (NY) Supreme Court</court>

A third-trimester sonogram showed the fetus in an oblique transverse lie, indicating possible breech presentation, along with hyperextension of the fetus’ spinal cord, indicating the fetus was at high risk for neck injury from a vaginal delivery. The radiologist conveyed the sonogram findings to a nurse, but not the woman’s obstetrician.

The next day the woman began having contractions and went to the emergency room. No attempt was made to obtain the sonogram from the day before. Despite a double-footling breech presentation, the obstetrician elected not to perform a cesarean section. After vaginal delivery, the infant was quadriplegic and had severe hypoxic brain damage.

In suing, the woman claimed her physician was negligent in choice of delivery and that the flexing and rotating of the infant’s head caused a near-complete transection of the spinal cord.

  • The case settled for $11.8 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 ( 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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