Bronx County (NY) Supreme Court—A gravida was admitted to a hospital at 41 weeks’ gestation for delivery and was placed on an external fetal heart rate (FHR) monitor. The tracing revealed late decelerations with every contraction from 4:15 a.m. to 5:06 a.m.
When the obstetrician did an amniotomy at 5:10 a.m., meconium was found. A cesarean delivery was subsequently performed at 7:35 a.m.
The Ob/Gyn argued that the fetal monitor indicated that the bleeding occurred in utero.
At birth, the baby’s Apgar scores were normal. However, an MRI performed later that day revealed intracranial bleeding. The infant developed right-side hemiparesis of the lower extremity, requiring physical therapy and surgery for tendon release. He now walks with a limp.
In suing, the mother claimed that the FHR tracing clearly showed signs of fetal distress. She further maintained that the physician unnecessarily delayed delivery for more than 3 hours and that the infant’s bleeding occurred during labor.
The obstetrician argued that the fetal monitor, if at all nonreassuring, indicated that the bleeding occurred prior to labor and delivery.
The jury awarded the plaintiff $1.25 million.
The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.