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Medical Verdicts


Woman wants VBAC, but hypoxia results

August 2005 · Vol. 17, No. 8

<court>Knox County (Tenn) Circuit Court</court>

After a previous cesarean section, a pregnant woman wanted a vaginal delivery and claimed she was told that VBAC was safe.

Arriving at the hospital in labor, she told hospital staff she had experienced uterine rupture at 5:56 am. Her physician was not told of the emergency when he was called at 6:02 am; he arrived at the hospital 23 minutes later. The infant, delivered by cesarean section 19 minutes after the physician’s arrival, had a catastrophic brain injury secondary to hypoxia and requires 24-hour care.

In suing the hospital and her physicians, the woman claimed she was not informed of the risk of uterine rupture. She also argued that a physician should have been at the hospital to perform a cesarean when she arrived, and noted communication delays with her doctor.

The physicians argued that the child’s condition was caused by a sudden acute ischemic event and that an earlier delivery would not have altered the outcome.

  • The hospital settled with the plaintiff for $3.5 million; the jury returned a defense verdict for the physicians.

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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