Jefferson County (Ky) Circuit 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.