Medical Verdicts

Group B strep infection leads to neonatal death


<court>Cook County (Ill) Circuit Court</court>

A woman presented to the hospital at 7:00 AM for labor induction. That night she was given antibiotics for a fever. Shortly after midnight she noted signs of fetal distress, fetal tachycardia, and a failure to progress. Fetal tracings showed a sudden change in the fetus’s condition at 4:30 AM; soon after, the infant was delivered lifeless with zero Apgars.

After the infant was resuscitated, cultures revealed group B strep infection. The infant had multisystem organ failure and died the next day after withdrawal of life support.

In suing, the mother faulted the defendant for failing to offer prenatal screening for group B strep, failing to diagnose macrosomia, and failing to recommend cesarean delivery. She also asserted that earlier antibiotics and delivery would have avoided the infant’s death.

The defense denied any deviation from the standard of care and contended that waiting for maternal fever during labor before administering antibiotics was appropriate. They also denied that the standard of care required advising patients of alternative approaches. They asserted that the standard of care did not require cesarean delivery and that neither earlier administration of antibiotics nor earlier delivery would have prevented the outcome.

  • The jury awarded the plaintiff $1.75 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 ( 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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