Articles Posted in Obstetrician Negligence

After Mary Hunt was diagnosed as having possible preeclampsia, she was admitted to a hospital for induction of labor. Her treating physician ordered Pitocin and transferred her to an on-call obstetrician, Dr. Larry Clark.

Dr. Clark delivered Mary’s son vaginally using forceps. As a result of the difficult delivery combined with the forceful use of forceps, the baby suffered abrasions to his head, a cephalohematoma, and bleeding within the brain.

The child is now 3 years old and suffers from right-sided hemiplegia, developmental and speech delays as well as vision problems.
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This Supreme Court case comes from an appeal twice to the appellate court and originally from the Circuit Court of Adams County, Ill. The issue was “whether the ruling of the appellate court, 2016 IL App (4th) 150843, reversing the judgment and remanding this case for a new trial requires a trial de novo on all claims.” The first appellate court decision answered this question in the affirmative. The Illinois Supreme Court granted motions by the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel to file an amicus curiae brief in support of defendant and the Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Association (ITLA) to file an amicus curiae brief in support of plaintiff’s position.

Because the resolution of the appeal concerned a narrow-certified question, the Illinois Supreme Court summarized the facts pertinent to making its decision.

In August 2015, plaintiffs Kristopher Crim and Teri Crim, acting on behalf of their biological son, Collin Crim, who was born on June 17, 2005, filed a fourth amended medical malpractice claim against the defendant, Gina Dietrich, D.O., alleging two claims: (1) Defendant failed to obtain Teri’s informed consent to perform a natural birth despite possible risks associated with Collin’s large size, and (2) defendant negligently delivered Collin, causing him injuries. The allegations supporting the informed consent claim are found in paragraph (a) through (j) of plaintiffs’ fourth amended complaint, while sub-paragraphs (k) and (l) concern the allegations related to professional negligence during the delivery of the child.
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Anna Scott was admitted to Jefferson Healthcare to deliver her first child. She was at first attached to a fetal heart monitor, which showed that her baby was healthy. She was then taken off the monitor for a six-hour period until her treating physician performed an artificial rupture of the membranes, after which Scott was then reattached to the fetal heart monitor.

The fetal heart monitor revealed that Scott’s baby had developed a worrisome heart rate pattern of repetitive variable decelerations with intermittent minimal variability.

Several hours later, Scott began to push. Her daughter, Lana, was born almost four hours later in a depressed condition with the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around her neck. Lana required 30 minutes of resuscitation. Lana’s Apgar scores were 3 at one minute and 4 at five minutes.
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Lilia Torres began spotting during the eighth week of her pregnancy. She was 34 years old at the time. She went to a hospital, where an ultrasound was completed, and later followed up with her treating obstetrician after receiving a diagnosis of placenta previa and possible placenta accreta – a condition in which the placenta attaches too deeply to the uterine wall. For the rest of her pregnancy, she received medical care from several obstetricians and midwives.

At 39 weeks gestation, a cesarean section was scheduled and performed one day later by two obstetricians. After the delivery, she suffered a massive blood loss, necessitating a hysterectomy.

Torres, who lost at least 10 liters of blood, suffered cardiogenic and pulmonary shock. Shortly after, she died of complications of hemorrhagic shock and multiple-organ failure. She was survived by her husband and four minor children.
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Lindsey Setzer was 24 years old and fourteen weeks pregnant with her first child. She experienced right-sided flank pain, abdominal cramping and nausea. She went to a hospital emergency room, where a nurse took her vital signs, which showed that she had an elevated temperature and a high pulse rate of 144.

After an ultrasound, Setzer was diagnosed as having kidney stones and discharged. Early the following morning, she went to a different hospital; this time she was diagnosed as having sepsis and respiratory distress. She underwent placement of a ureteral stent and suffered a spontaneous abortion during the procedure.

She continues to suffer chronic fatigue and memory issues resulting from the sepsis and has been diagnosed as having post-sepsis syndrome.
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The use of fetoscopy was first developed in the 1990s. The process involves ultrasound-guided placement of a stethoscope – a small, fiber optic instrument – in the uterus to see the fetus and the placenta.

Fetoscopy as a surgical procedure can treat various fetal conditions including congenital diaphragmatic hernia and bladder outlet obstruction. Its most common use is the treatment of a rare condition, Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS).

The condition of TTTS occurs when identical twins share a placenta with blood vessel connections that cause blood to flow unevenly between the two fetuses. According to the article, “Caught on Camera” by attorney Jeffrey B. Killino, one of the fetuses develops a small amniotic sac while the other sac becomes too large. Laser fetoscopy allows the laser to break up and collapse these blood vessel connections. Reportedly, if the condition is not treated, both of the fetuses can die. TTTS occurs in approximately 1 in 2,500 pregnancies. It is expected that there will be a rise in TTTS occurrences because of the increase in fertility-assisted pregnancies.
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Shunteria McIntyre, 20, received prenatal care from Dr. Orlando Muniz. Over a three-month period, she lost 26 pounds and complained of nausea and vomiting while visiting Dr. Muniz. She suffered additional weight loss later as well.

After eventually delivering a still-born baby, McIntyre died at her home. The cause was determined to be septicemia, acute diarrhea, and intrauterine fetal demise.

McIntyre’s personal representative brought a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against Dr. Muniz among others. The trial court dismissed the case reasoning that McIntyre’s pre-suit medical expert was not qualified to provide expert opinion testimony under Florida law and that McIntyre also chose not to comply with the pre-suit discovery process for medical malpractice claims under Florida law.
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Grayson Charlton, a twin, was in the breech position at the time of her delivery at Delaware County Memorial Hospital. The treating obstetrician, Dr. Steven Troy, allegedly applied traction to deliver Grayson, resulting in a popping sound. After the delivery, Grayson was diagnosed as having suffered a spinal cord injury and avulsed nerve roots to her right arm.

Grayson is now 5 years old and is paralyzed from the chest down requiring her to be confined to a wheelchair. Grayson has undergone extensive physical and occupational therapy.
Grayson’s parents, individually and on Grayson’s behalf, sued Dr. Troy, the hospital and two health networks under an agency theory, claiming liability for Dr. Troy choosing not to prevent the baby’s head from becoming hyperextended during the delivery.

The Charlton family experts testified that Grayson’s injuries could have occurred only after application of excessive longitudinal traction.
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On July 8, 2003, Madison Drake was delivered by obstetrician Dr. Timothy Durkee at Swedish American Hospital in Rockford, Ill. During the vaginal delivery of this newborn, a shoulder dystocia was encountered. Essentially that means that the baby’s shoulder was caught or stuck on the mother’s pubic bone. Dr. Durkee used the McRoberts maneuver with suprapubic pressure to finish the delivery of the baby.

Madison’s mother, Nicole Drake, consented to vaginal delivery, but claimed that she requested a C-section several times during her labor.

Madison suffered a left humerus fracture, brachial plexus injury, and a mild hypoxic brain injury that left baby Madison with cognitive deficits and executive function impairment. The brachial plexus injury would most likely have been caused by the effort to dislodge the baby’s shoulder that was stuck on the mother’s pubic bone.
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The United States government has withdrawn its appeal after a U.S. District Court judge in Pennsylvania signed a judgment order in the amount of $42 million for the parents of a young boy who was disabled from brain injuries apparently caused by the use of forceps during his birth.

Regan Safier, the attorney for the family of the minor child, identified only as D.A., commented that the government found that an appeal of the judgment would not be successful.

The U.S. attorney, David J. Freed said, “We respect the court’s decision in this matter and wish nothing but the best for the minor child and his parents.” The verdict of $42 million was entered in Harrisburg, Penn., after a 6-day trial in 2016.
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