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Birth Injury Due to Failure to Timely Deliver

Lawsuit Against University of Minnesota Physicians | October 22, 2020

On October 22, 2020, WVFO attorneys Keith Forman and Dave Grzechowiak filed a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a child who suffered a preventable brain injury.

The complaint alleges that the child’s mother became pregnant in January of 2016. The pregnancy was complicated by hyperemesis gravidarum, a serious complication of pregnancy, which results in severe nausea and vomiting that is accompanied by significant weight loss. Hyperemesis gravidarum can result in maternal and fetal death due to dehydration and other complications. The child’s mother was not referred to a high-risk obstetrician for this condition despite documented and sustained weight loss. Lab results during the pregnancy also revealed elevated glucose levels which put her at a heightened risk for gestational diabetes. This was extremely concerning in light of the continued hyperemesis and weight loss. On September 30, 2016, induction was discussed given the recurrent hyperemesis, however, there was no discussion of the mother’s heightened risk for gestational diabetes, which was an additional indication for induction. The child’s mother was not counseled on the potential dangerous interplay between her hyperemesis and her impaired glucose levels. Despite these findings, her doctor failed to refer the mother to a high-risk specialist. On October 20, 2016, at approximately 10:19 a.m., the mother presented to University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview for a labor evaluation. As of this date, she was 41 weeks and 5 days pregnant. She was connected to an electronic fetal heart rate monitor and a tocodynamometer to evaluate overall fetal well-being in utero and her uterine activity, respectively. The initial fetal heart rate monitoring was described as Category I with moderate variability, accelerations and no decelerations of the fetal heart rate. All indications were that the baby was healthy and neurologically intact in utero. The electronic fetal heart rate monitor and tocodynamometer were discontinued at approximately 12:03 p.m. The mother was reconnected to the monitors at approximately 12:57 p.m. From approximately 1:05 p.m. through 1:15 p.m. there were a series of repetitive variable decelerations. Beginning at approximately 1:53 p.m. there was a period of minimal variability followed by a deep deceleration down to approximately 85 beats per minute at approximately 2:00 p.m. These patterns were concerning for fetal distress. The monitors were again discontinued at approximately 2:27 p.m. The mother was reconnected to the monitors from 4:33 p.m. until approximately 4:59 p.m. During this time period, the fetal heart rate tracing again had periods of minimal variability and repetitive variable decelerations. At times, the fetal heart rate was also tachycardic (i.e., above 160 beats per minute). Despite a clear Category II tracing, and signs of fetal non-reassurance, the mother was again disconnected from the monitors at approximately 4:59 p.m. The mother was reconnected to both devices at approximately 5:40 p.m. Beginning at approximately 5:47 p.m. there was a non-reassuring prolonged deceleration that lasted approximately six minutes evidencing concern for fetal hypoxia and growing intolerance to labor. Four minutes later, at approximately 5:57 p.m., the monitors were discontinued once again. The mother was reconnected to the monitors at 6:25 p.m. At 6:39 p.m. the fetal heart rate became terminally bradycardic. An emergency cesarean section delivery was ordered at 6:52 p.m. At 7:03 p.m., the child was delivered via emergency cesarean section. He was limp and flaccid at birth, and his Apgar scores were 0, 0, 0, 3, and 3 at one, five, ten, fifteen and twenty minutes respectively. The child began having seizures overnight. After undergoing hypothermia treatment for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, a subsequent brain MRI showed evidence of “profound hypoxic ischemic injury, with marked atrophy and volume loss of the cerebral white matter, basal ganglia and cerebral cortex.” The child now suffers from permanent physical and mental impairments, among other injuries and damages.

The child’s injuries were a result of the negligence of University of Minnesota Physicians and its employees. The lawsuit alleges that the Defendants failed to timely deliver the baby in the face of fetal distress. He will require significant medical care and treatment for the rest of his life.

The action is pending in the Fourth Judicial District Court for Hennepin County, Minnesota.

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