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Medical Verdicts

Defense rebuttal: Child has near-normal IQ

November 2005 · Vol. 17, No. 11
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<court>Bronx County (NY) Supreme Court</court>

A 28-year-old woman went to the hospital at 8 months’ gestation with uterine contractions. The obstetrician diagnosed premature labor and ordered tocolysis. A sonogram showed no signs of placental abruption. Nevertheless, after the fetal heart monitor showed deep decelerations, an emergency cesarean section was performed.

Not breathing at birth, the infant was given oxygen and intubated. The umbilical cord pH was 6.9. Administration of sodium bicarbonate and epinephrine led to normalization of the heart rate and pH.

The child now has developmental delays with speech and language disabilities.

In suing, the parents claimed placental abruption had occurred and claimed the cesarean section was inappropriately delayed. They also maintained that the neonate had signs of seizure activity, respiratory distress syndrome, and elevated glucose and creatinine levels.

The obstetrician and hospital rebutted that the child had a near-normal IQ and that delaying labor was appropriate.

  • The case settled for $5.25 million: $4.25 million from the hospital and $1 million from the obstetrician.

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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