Articles Posted in Obstetrician Negligence

During the delivery of the newborn in this case, the fetal monitor of the fetus indicated non-reassuring signs over the course of several hours, including heart rate abnormalities. In this summary of the case, the baby is Baby Doe. This was a confidential settlement in which the parties were identified as Doe, being the mother of the newborn, Baby Doe and Roe, being the physician, the obstetrician and hospital that were sued.

The mother of Baby Doe experienced uterine tachysystole. Uterine tachysystole is defined as six contractions in a ten-minute period.There have been many studies as to whether more than six contractions over a ten-minute period within the first four hours of labor induction is associated with adverse infant outcomes. However, six more contractions in ten minutes were significantly associated with fetal heart rate decelerations.

A nurse at the Roe hospital notified the treating obstetrician who allegedly reviewed the monitor strips but did not re-examine Baby Doe’s mother.Baby Doe was born in a depressed condition with Apgar scores of 3 at one minute and 6 at five minutes.
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Kimberly Williams went into labor at 20 weeks’ gestation. Full-term gestation is generally 39 weeks. She was admitted to Sinai Grace Hospital where she delivered a stillborn boy at the facility’s labor and delivery unit.

Later, Williams requested a repeat ultrasound. The treating obstetrician, Dr. Charlene Williams, declined to order the test and instead gave Cytotec to deliver the placenta.

The use of Cytotec is used to reduce the risk of stomach ulcers caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pregnant women. Significantly, Cytotec may cause abortion, premature birth or birth defects if taken during a pregnancy.
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Baby Doe, 6 months, had an appointment with a physician at the Roe Family Physician office where the baby’s parents were concerned over asymmetrical folds in the baby’s right thigh and buttocks. The family practice physician misdiagnosed Baby Doe and said that all was well.

Six months later, another physician, a specialist, examined Baby Doe who had by then begun walking with a limp. The child was diagnosed as having a right hip dysplasia, which required hip surgery, including a femoral shortening.

The Doe family, on behalf of the child, sued Dr. Roe and her medical practice alleging that she chose not to diagnose a congenital hip problem. The defendants asserted that the baby’s problem was developmental, not congenital and was therefore not diagnosable at an earlier stage.
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The birth injury to a newborn is perhaps the most heartbreaking injuries that human beings face. The birth of a newborn child is a remarkable event by itself. It comes with the promise of a long and healthy life. However, when an obstetrician, nurse midwife or labor and delivery nurse are negligent, this can cause a birth injury, brain damage or birth trauma. The results are devastating to the baby as well as to the parents and siblings.

In particular, the birth injury to a newborn child who has been injured permanently by the negligence of a labor and delivery team has long-term effects on the mother. In fact, too often mothers are injured during child birth; this may well play a role in their ability to bear more children.

The physical effects on a mother who gives birth to a newborn child coupled with a traumatic labor and delivery injury are easily recognized. The mother may suffer from uterine bleeding, bone fractures and bruising, a uterine rupture that may have been caused by an error in the Cesarean delivery, fissures, infection, pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, uterine hyper-stimulation, vaginal tears or even the wrongful death of the mother. Maternal deaths are much more common than one would expect.
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In this confidential settlement, during the delivery of Baby Doe, a shoulder dystocia occurred. The attending physician, Dr. Roe, released the impacted shoulder and delivered Baby Doe, who suffered a right brachial plexus injury. The brachial plexus injury required nerve graft surgery.

In spite of the surgery to correct the brachial plexus injury, Baby Doe now has a paralyzed right arm, shoulder and hand. Baby Doe’s mother suffered vaginal injuries as well during the delivery.

Baby Doe and her parents filed a lawsuit against the obstetrician, Dr. Roe, and the hospital that delivered Baby Doe, alleging that they chose not to properly handle the shoulder dystocia and safely delivery the baby. The Doe family claimed that Dr. Roe had encountered shoulder dystocia during the delivery of Baby Doe’s older sibling, but chose not to alert the Doe parents about this or the need for a Cesarean section delivery for future pregnancies.
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Vonshelle Brothers received her prenatal care, including a Pap smear, at the Brevard County Health Department. A cytopathologist allegedly interpreted the Pap smear as having cellular changes consistent with the herpes simplex virus. However, a health department nurse reported that the test was normal. Her obstetrician did not look at the actual Pap smear and Brothers was not notified of the cytopathologist’s findings.

About seven months later, Brothers delivered her baby vaginally. Two weeks later the child was diagnosed with herpetic meningoencephalitis, which led to profound brain damage. This child is now 6 years old. She has developmental delays, speech and vision problems and difficulty walking.

Brothers filed a lawsuit against the health department alleging that its employees chose not to diagnose the herpes simplex virus and prevent Brothers from transmitting the virus to her unborn child by performing a Cesarean section. There were other allegations of preventative medical attention that could have prevented and avoided the predictable outcome. Before trial, the parties settled the case for $3.2 million.
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In August 2015, the plaintiffs, Kristopher Crim and Teri Crim, acting on behalf of their biological son, Collin Crim, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant physician, Dr. Gina Dietrich, claiming that she chose not to comply with the standard of care applicable to an obstetrician. The Crims claimed that Dr. Dietrich’s negligent failure to obtain Teri’s informed consent prior to Collin’s natural birth resulted in a fracture to Collin’s right clavicle and nerve damage that extended down his right side to his shoulder, wrist, hand and fingers.

Following the presentation of the Crims’ case to the jury, Dr. Dietrich moved for a partially directed verdict on the issue of informed consent, which was granted by the trial judge. After additional evidence and argument, the jury returned a verdict in Dr. Dietrich’s favor and against the Crims on their remaining claim.

The Crims had sought expenses under Section 15 of the Rights of Married Persons Act (750 ILCS 65/15 (2014)). The court later imposed costs on the Crims as permitted by Section 5-109 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 735 ILCS 5/5-109. The Crims appealed, arguing that the trial judge erred by (1) granting Dr. Dietrich a directed verdict on the issue of informed consent; and (2) barring certain medical testimony. As the appeals panel pointed out, because they agreed with the Crims’ first argument on the directed verdict on informed consent, the trial court’s decisions were reversed.
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A Wisconsin appellate court has ruled that a trial judge improperly excluded a defendant physician’s expert testimony. The expert wanted to testify about the maternal forces of labor being a cause of the plaintiff child’s brachial plexus injury.

In this case, Leah Bayer and her husband filed a lawsuit against her obstetrician, Dr. Brian Dobbins, claiming that he mishandled their infant’s shoulder dystocia, causing the baby girl to suffer a permanent brachial plexus injury.

The defendant doctor contended that the child’s injury came from maternal forces of labor. This is probably the most common and over-used defense in a birth trauma injury cases. The Bayer family then filed a motion in limine and requested that the judge exclude the defendant’s expert testimony related to the maternal forces of labor theory. The trial judge granted the motion.

However, the appellate court reversed. Whether expert testimony is admissible under the Daubert standard depends on whether an expert is qualified and uses a methodology that is scientifically reliable and whether the testimony will assist the trier of fact to determine a fact in issue.
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Irena Dujmovic-Terman was seven weeks pregnant when she began prenatal care with the defendant obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Elliot Levine on Feb. 1, 2008. She was 37 years old at the time. Because of her advanced maternal age, Dr. Levine recommended genetic testing for fetal anomalies. The patient agreed at her 11-week visit.

The blood draw for the quad screen test was planned for the 15-week visit on March 27, 2008, but Dr. Levine’s staff chose not to perform the blood draw at that time, giving no explanation.
Dr. Levine later took the first quad screen blood draw on April 24, 2008. The test results came back from the lab on April 29 showing a high risk of fetal anomaly (trisomy 21 Down syndrome) and thus Dr. Levine signed off on them on May 2. Dujmovic-Terman was not informed of the results during the next three weeks.

Dr. Levine finally told her about the results at her next visit on May 22 when she was 23 weeks pregnant. Dr. Levine ordered an amniocentesis at Weiss Memorial Hospital, which was scheduled for June 3, the next available appointment. However, Dr. Levine chose not to tell the patient that a legal abortion would not be available in Illinois once she passed gestation of 23 weeks and 6 days. He also failed to order the amniocentesis on an expedited basis.
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Andrew and Marni Hotchkiss, a couple in their 30s, were struggling with infertility. They consulted an obstetrician and infertility physician, Dr. Siu Ng-Wagner. The couple and the doctor agreed to use a gestational carrier. As the Hotchkiss family selected potential surrogates online, the couple sent these candidates to Dr. Ng-Wagner for medical screening. Dr. Ng-Wagner subsequently interviewed Christina Jensen and told the Hotchkiss family that everything was “all clear.”

Jensen delivered the Hotchkiss’s baby at 25 weeks gestation after developing pre-eclampsia during the pregnancy. The newborn child developed sepsis and died just 3 weeks after birth.
The Hotchkisses filed a lawsuit against Dr. Ng-Wagner and her medical practice claiming that she chose not to review Jensen’s medical records before recommending her as a suitable surrogate.

This would have revealed Jensen’s history of pre-eclampsia in her pregnancy the year before the Hotchkiss’s baby’s birth. The plaintiffs also argued that Dr. Ng-Wagner had a duty to inform the Hotchkisses that she had not reviewed Jensen’s records before clearing her to be named a surrogate.
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