Thursday, February 16, 2012

Child Develops Cerebral Palsy As A Result Of Error By Medical Staff by Joseph Hernandez

In the course of labor, pregnant women are normally attached to a fetal heart rate monitor. The data from the monitor is used to track whether the baby is well or is in fetal distress. Should such warning signs appear measures need to be taken right away to counteract the situation or to deliver the child. Any delay can lead to significant and permanent harm to the infant. By delaying taking timely and appropriate action doctors and nurses may be acting in a manner that does not meet the standard of care. If this does lead to injury to the baby, these physicians and nurses may be liable for medical malpractice.

Look at a published case regarding what had been a normal pregnancy, the expectant mother was 13 days past her due date. She was hospitalized for the planned delivery of her baby. After her admission to the hospital, one of the doctors ruptured her membranes in an attempt to enhance her labor. The woman's records indicate that there was “scant to no amniotic fluid” observed. At some point the fetal heart rate monitor started to exhibit non-reassuring tracings. But, 6 hours later a drug was used in order to stimulate her contractions. Despite the fact that this medication has a known risk leading to hyperstimulation, the administration of the drug was continuously increased during the period of the next few hours.

During this time, the unborn baby’s heart rate showed marked late decelerations, an increasing baseline, along with intervals of decreasing variability the medication did nothing to further her labor. On more than one occasion, two nurses attempted to counteract the decelerations however neither made any attempt to stop or even decrease the drug being used. Nearly 7 hours subsequent to the first time the medication was used, the fetal heart rate began steadily rising. This was a signal that the unborn child was seeking to compensate for the lack of oxygen.

Finally, almost four hours after the signs of fetal distress appeared the obstetrician attempted a vacuum extraction. This physician made multiple attempts (nine in total) at vacuum extraction. As the obstetrician tried the vacuum extraction, the fetal heart rate readings deteriorated to the point suspicious for terminal bradycardia. When this happened this doctor at last ordered an emergency C-section. The obstetrician delivered the infant just over 1 hour following beginning the use of vacuum extraction.

The woman's records noted the presence of dense meconium. On being born, the child did not have a heart rate and was not breathing. Resuscitation efforts were able to revive the baby. The infant was transferred to NICU unit. In the NICU unit the baby began having seizures. The child was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a result of an prolonged period of oxygen deprivation. The law firm that handled the resulting lawsuit announced that it settled for $4.0 million.