Essex County (Mass) Superior 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.