$22 million awarded for cerebral palsy
<court>Jefferson County (Ky) Circuit Court</court>
At more than 40 weeks’ gestation, a woman was admitted to a hospital for labor induction. Oxytocin was administered in increasing doses because of slow progress, but 10 hours after admission the infant was still not delivered. After failed vaginal delivery with vacuum forceps, the infant was eventually delivered by cesarean section.
The infant has spastic quadriplegia with severe speech and motor deficits, and is now confined to a wheelchair, requiring 24-hour care.
In suing, the woman contended the oxytocin caused uterine hyperstimulation and that the nurses failed to note that the oxytocin was not working. She claimed vaginal delivery should not have been attempted. She asserted the hospital was negligent in credentialing the physician, who was given full privileges without monitoring despite having been in practice for only a month at the time of the delivery.
The hospital countered that the woman and her infant had responded well to the oxytocin and that the hypoxic event resulted from unforeseeable and unpreventable movement by the fetus, which restricted the umbilical cord.
- The physician settled for a confidential amount prior to trial. The jury awarded the plaintiff $22 million; posttrial motions are pending.
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). The available information about the cases presented here is sometimes incomplete; thus, pertinent details of a given situation may be unavailable. Moreover, the cases may or may not have merit. Nevertheless, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation and are meant to illustrate nationwide variation in jury verdicts and awards.