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Birth Injury Due to Failure to Properly Monitor High Risk Pregnancy

Lawsuit Against Lehigh Valley Hospital Hazleton | November 9, 2020

On November 9, 2020, WVFO attorneys Chris Norman and Kieran Murphy filed a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a child who suffered an avoidable brain injury.

The complaint alleges that on December 3, 2014, the child’s mother had her first prenatal appointment for this pregnancy. At the appointment, her obstetrician documented that the mother had a poor prior obstetrical history, including a prior preterm birth at 24 weeks’ gestation of a live male baby in August of 2010 and a prior preterm birth at 20 weeks’ gestation of twins that both died. The obstetrician documented that the mother presented with a “high risk pregnancy, incompetent cervix, for cervical cerclage.” Cervical incompetence, also known as cervical insufficiency, is a diagnosis used to describe the inability of the uterine cervix to retain a pregnancy in the absence of the signs and symptoms of clinical contractions, or labor, or both in the second trimester. Cervical cerclage is a procedure that uses sutures or synthetic tape to reinforce the cervix during pregnancy in women with a history of a short cervix. On December 8, 2014, the mother had her first obstetrical sonogram of the pregnancy. The sonogram was reassuring. On January 15, 2015, the mother had her second obstetrical sonogram for the pregnancy. The sonogram showed that the mother’s cervical length was 3.67 cm. On January 19, 2015, the obstetrician surgically placed a cervical cerclage due to the cervical incompetence and the high-risk pregnancy. On March 11, 2015, the mother had her third obstetrical sonogram for the pregnancy. Despite the fact that she was diagnosed with cervical incompetence, also known as cervical insufficiency, and despite the fact that the pregnancy was a high-risk pregnancy, the mother’s cervical length was not measured during this sonogram. On April 1, 2015, the mother had her fourth obstetrical sonogram for the pregnancy. Despite the fact that she was diagnosed with cervical incompetence, also known as cervical insufficiency, and despite the fact that the pregnancy was a high-risk pregnancy, the mother’s cervical length was not measured during this sonogram. The failure to measure the mother’s cervical length during the March 11, 2015 and April 1, 2015 sonogram was a violation of the standard of care in light of the mother’s poor obstetrical history, active diagnosis of cervical incompetence, also known as cervical insufficiency, and classification as a high-risk pregnancy. On April 14, 2015, the mother called her obstetrician and complained that she had vaginal spotting. The obstetrician told the mother to see how she was in the morning. The failure to advise the mother to immediately report to the hospital was a violation of the standard of care in light of the mother’s poor obstetrical history, active diagnosis of cervical incompetence, also known as cervical insufficiency, classification as a high-risk pregnancy, and currently placed cervical cerclage. At 6:15 a.m. on April 15, 2015, the mother presented to Lehigh Valley Hospital Hazleton with complaints of lower abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding when wiping. At 6:48 a.m., the first dose of betamethasone, an antenatal corticosteroid that is administered for fetal lung maturation when there is a high risk of impending preterm birth, was administered. At 6:50 a.m., the obstetrician called into the hospital and instructed the providers to order a STAT ultrasound to check the cervical length and to rule out a potential abruption. The order for a STAT ultrasound to measure the cervical length demonstrates the importance of cervical length measurements to assess for preterm birth following surgical placement of a cervical cerclage. The ultrasound showed that the cervix was already dilated and that the membranes were prolapsed into the cervical canal. At 11:08 a.m., the mother was transferred to Lehigh Valley Hospital via ambulance. Following her admission, at 6:24 p.m. on April 15, 2015, the mother called out feeling “a lot of bleeding coming out.” Upon arrival to the room, she had 50-100 cc of blood on her gown and pad. A cesarean section delivery was scheduled. At 8:06 p.m. on April 15, 2015, the child was born via cesarean section delivery without receiving a full course of antenatal corticosteroids and without receiving the optimal benefit of at least twenty-four hours of antenatal corticosteroid administration. The child went on to develop periventricular leukomalacia, which is the pattern of brain damage seen when a patient is born prematurely without receiving the optimal benefit of antenatal corticosteroids. The child suffered severe injuries including spastic diplegic cerebral palsy and global developmental delays.

The child’s injuries were a result of the negligence of Lehigh Valley Hospital Hazleton and its employees. The lawsuit alleges that the Defendants failed to properly monitor the mother’s high-risk pregnancy. The child will require significant medical care and treatment for the rest of her life.

The action is pending in the Court of Common Pleas for Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

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