Articles Posted in Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

John Lipsey filed a lawsuit on behalf of his minor daughter, J.L., for injuries suffered by her at birth. The United States federal district court judge granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants who were sued for medical negligence under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).

On June 8, 2009, a criminal complaint was filed against Wenona White in federal court alleging charges of federal bank fraud. White was pregnant at the time with her tenth child. Lipsey was the father. White was scheduled to self-surrender to the U.S. Marshal on July 6, 2009, but she failed to appear in court and was not located until Sept. 10, 2009 when she was taken into custody.

Because White was 35 weeks pregnant by the time she was apprehended, the U.S. Marshals Service faced the challenge of finding a detention facility that was able to meet White’s late-pregnancy healthcare needs. The Marshals Service arranged for White to be housed at the Jerome Combs Detention Center (JCDC), a Kankakee County, Ill., facility that has an intergovernmental agreement with the Marshals Service. The JCDC had a full-time medical staff and a relationship with an obstetrics practice to handle the obstetric needs of its prison population.
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Elien Lorenzo received prenatal care from Dr. Nelson Alvarez-Reyes, M.D., an obstetrician employed by the federally funded clinic. During her prenatal care, she received several ultrasounds at this clinic. One of the ultrasound reports estimated a delivery date based on her last menstrual period. The calculation of the delivery date was more than three weeks earlier than the baby’s gestational age based on the measurements taken during the ultrasound test. Later test reports also showed the discrepancy of the projected delivery date.

Despite this information, Dr. Alvarez-Reyes induced labor more than four weeks before Lorenzo’s baby had reached full gestational age.

Before the delivery, the baby was shown to be under fetal distress. The baby was later diagnosed as having suffered hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). The baby is now 4 years old and has developed mental delays, hearing loss and a seizure disorder.
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The mother, Doe, age 38, was 30 weeks into her pregnancy and considered in a high-risk pregnancy when she was admitted to the Roe Hospital due to preeclampsia. Several days later, during overnight hours, the fetal monitor showed severe late deceleration of her unborn baby, which continued for two hours. Despite orders for a STAT Caesarean section, the procedure was not performed until 90 minutes later.

Ms. Doe’s anesthesia wore off prematurely following the delivery. When the attending anesthesiologist attempted to intubate Doe, her abdomen filled with air. Doe subsequently coded and suffered profound brain damage. Ms. Doe lived in an institutional setting until she died almost six years later. She is survived by her husband and the baby who was delivered at that time and also suffered brain damage.

Ms. Doe’s sister, on behalf of her estate, her husband and her injured child, filed a lawsuit against the hospital and anesthesiologist claiming improper handling of fetal distress, late performance of the Cesarean section and negligent intubation.
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Vashti Daisley went to a hospital complaining of a lack of fetal movement during the late stages of her pregnancy. Dr. Donna Kasello, an obstetrician, performed a biophysical profile, which resulted in a score of two.

Dr. Kasello consulted a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, Dr. Kimberly Heller, and the patient later underwent a repeat biophysical profile, which resulted in a score of eight. Dr. Kasello discharged Daisley after 30 additional minutes of fetal monitoring.

The next day, Daisley’s treating obstetrician performed an emergency biophysical profile. The results were not reassuring, leading to the delivery of Vashti Daisley’s son by Cesarean section.
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Marla Dixon was admitted to a hospital in labor. Her obstetrician was Dr. Ata Atogho, a U.S. government employee. Dr. Atogho attended the delivery.

After the heartrate monitor of the fetus showed decelerations and poor variability, a nurse discontinued Pitocin and called Dr. Atogho who arrived sixteen minutes later. Dr. Atogho restarted the Pitocin. Dixon labored for another hour and a half.

Dr. Atogho then used a vacuum extractor to deliver Dixon’s baby son, who was born in a depressed condition with Apgar scores of one at one minute and four at five minutes.
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The United States will pay $5 million in a settlement to resolve a medical malpractice lawsuit alleging that physicians at a Florida naval hospital chose not to order a cesarean section despite signs and symptoms of fetal distress. As it turned out, the fetal distress caused the baby’s permanent brain damage.

Jenifer and Sean Mochocki, a U.S. Air Force officer, reached a settlement with the federal government in this Federal Tort Claims Act case and asked the federal district court judge to approve the settlement and the medical malpractice lawsuit. The suit alleged that three Naval Hospital Jacksonville physicians chose not to order a cesarean section procedure in the face of adverse fetal heart tracing, which resulted in the Mochocki baby’s hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which is a permanent brain injury related to oxygen deprivation.

The settlement is partially structured in that the Mochocki family will receive $1,590,000 and approximately $3 million will be used to purchase an annuity that will allow for monthly payments of approximately $7,600 for the baby’s life. An additional payment of $4,500 will be made per month when the child reaches the age of 18 until the end of life.
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Baby Doe, two months old, underwent an MRI after being taken to a hospital by ambulance. The attending anesthesiologist, Dr. Roe, ordered Propofol to prevent Baby Doe from moving excessively during the test.

While undergoing the MRI, Baby Doe’s oxygen saturation level dropped below 90. The baby suffered respiratory arrest resulting in cardiac arrest. Baby Doe experienced hypoxic-ischemic brain damage. Baby Doe — now 9 years old — is unable to take care of himself or speak.

Following this tragic brain injury, the Doe family sued Dr. Roe and his practice alleging that the anesthesiologist chose not to properly monitor Baby Doe during the MRI. The lawsuit also claimed that an attending technician failed to notify Dr. Roe when he noticed Baby Doe’s decreased oxygen saturation. The court had dismissed the radiology technician as a party defendant on that defendant’s motion. The Doe family is appealing that ruling. Continue reading

At the moment of birth, the most objective method of assessing a newborn’s metabolic condition is by analyzing umbilical cord blood gas. To be specific, arterial cord pH and base deficit can determine perinatal hypoxia and be an insight into causes of fetal distress.

Umbilical cord blood gases are most likely interpreted in situations of high risk pregnancies when there are abnormal fetal heart rate patterns, when there is an intrapartum fever, emergent C-section for a fetal compromised, low Apgar scores (less than 3) or when there are multiple fetal births.

There are three most common causes of neonates hypoxia or asphyxia, which are when the mother is oxygen compromised, when there is preeclampsia, chronic hypertension, hypotension, hypovolemia or cyanotic heart disease. Another type of condition that causes hypoxia or asphyxia is when the oxygen flow from the placenta to the fetus is obstructed or impaired. This could be caused by a placental abruption, a cord prolapse, or repetitive cord blockage.
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When an infant is tragically injured during childbirth by the negligence of an obstetrician, nurse wife or nurse, the defense, with few exceptions, relies on medical publications. Most of these publications come from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). On the other hand, a plaintiff’s neuroradiology expert would be called to testify about the baby’s time of injury. ACOG has taken most birth trauma injury cases as having occurred in the prenatal stages of childbirth. In other words, during labor and delivery the HIE injury (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy), which is the basis for the lawsuit, didn’t occur during labor and delivery, but instead occurred as a matter of course during the time prenatally. That’s the standard defense.

ACOG published in January 2003 a document that created strict criteria for establishing the existence of intrapartum HIE. Applying this stringent criteria, ACOG defenders argued that the injury to the baby occurred not during labor and delivery but prenatally. The claim that the baby was asphyxiated intrapartum, that is during labor and delivery, could not have happened because the strict criteria were not met.

The published paper by ACOG took the position that 4-10% of moderate to severe neonatal encephalopathy occurred as a result of hypoxia in the intrapartum period.

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Stacy Maxberry attempted a vaginal birth after a Cesarean section birth. This is often referred to as “V-back.” During the delivery, the fetal monitor showed repetitive decelerations, a dangerous sign for the unborn child. The obstetrician in charge of the birth was Dr. Matthew Whitted, who was contacted about the repetitive decelerations showing on the fetal monitor. However, Dr. Whitted did not come to the hospital to look at the fetal monitoring strips. Maxberry was told to continue pushing.

When the fetal heart rate patterns worsened, Dr. Whitted was called again. This time he ordered a Cesarean section, which was done 30 minutes later. Stacy Maxberry’s son was stillborn.

She sued Dr. Whitted claiming that he chose not to call for a timely Cesarean section after the first phone call and chose not to evaluate the fetal monitoring strips more closely. In the hour between the first and second telephone call to Dr. Whitted, Maxberry argued that her unborn baby suffered a fatal hypoxic event. The jury agreed and entered its verdict in favor of Stacy Maxberry for the wrongful death of her unborn child at $1.5 million.

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