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Medical Verdicts


Delayed cesarean blamed for injuries

December 2005 · Vol. 17, No. 12

<court>Essex County (Mass) Superior Court</court>

Two weeks past her due date, a woman underwent artificial rupture of membranes in the morning; scant amniotic fluid was noted. Oxytocin was administered and late decelerations were noted.

Labor progressed slowly and the possibility of cephalopelvic disproportion was entertained.

Later that night the fetal heart rate demonstrated tachycardia. The plaintiff alleged that the nurses failed to make detailed notes in the patient’s record or question the obstetrician’s decision to continue with labor induction in the presence of a nonreassuring tracing. In the second stage, a vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery was attempted due to a prolonged deceleration of the fetal heart rate. Nine vacuum extractions were attempted and were unsuccessful.

The infant was delivered by emergency cesarean section with no heart rate, respirations, muscle tone, or reflex irritation. After resuscitation, the infant was transferred to another hospital, where seizures developed and cerebral palsy was diagnosed.

The woman sued both the obstetricians and the nurses. The defendants contended the fetal monitoring strips showed little, if any, signs of nonreassuring patterns. They also claimed the infant’s injuries had other causes.

  • The case settled for $4 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). 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.

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