Newborn Brain Injury Due to Avoidable Preterm Birth
Lawsuit Against Sinai Hospital
On February 7, 2023, WVFK&N attorneys Keith Forman and Jermaine Haughton filed a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a newborn who suffered an avoidable brain injury.
The complaint alleges that the mother presented to Sinai on October 7, 2019, and her cervix was found to be 2 cm dilated. This was the first report of cervical dilation. She was 23 weeks and 1 day pregnant. Among other things, she was diagnosed with “preterm labor” and “epigastric abdominal pain.” Of note, abdominal pain was not a new complaint for the mother, as she had visited the emergency room at Sinai for the same complaints of sharp intermittent abdominal pain/cramping on previous occasions. This abdominal pain/cramping was not diagnosed as preterm labor on any occasion prior to October 7, 2019. The mother was admitted for further evaluation and treatment, to include tocolytics (to slow down uterine activity), betamethasone (for fetal lung maturity), and penicillin (for GBS positive status). Although they appropriately counseled the mother on the importance of prolongation of her pregnancy (stating that it is the single factor most likely to produce a positive outcome), the Sinai doctors never advised the mother of the possibility of receiving an antibiotic regimen to prolong the pregnancy if rupture of membranes were to occur. This is called treatment with “latency antibiotics” and is routinely offered and recommended in these clinical circumstances, with positive outcomes. The mother’s membranes ruptured shortly after 9 p.m. on October 9—over 64 hours after her admission. Despite documentation that the mother wanted to have all measures in place to improve the chance of a positive outcome, the providers again failed to counsel the mother with respect to latency antibiotics. Instead, the providers rushed to deliver the baby by cesarean section at the extremely premature gestational age of 23 weeks and 2 days—without an indication to do so. At birth, the baby had Apgar scores of 5 at 1 minute and 7 at 5 minutes. She suffered respiratory distress and required mechanical ventilation. Imaging studies performed following her admission showed progressively worsening bilateral intraventricular hemorrhages, which are often found in extremely premature births. Today, the child suffers from severe brain injury, cerebral palsy, global developmental delays, and other injuries and damages secondary to her extremely premature birth.
The lawsuit alleges that the injuries were a result of the negligence of Sinai Hospital and its employees in failing to recommend or offer antibiotics as a method of prolonging the pregnancy. Studies have shown that latency antibiotics, on average, extends a 23-week pregnancy by 14 days. Had the baby had the benefit of additional time in utero, she would have avoided any serious and permanent injuries relating to prematurity.
The action is pending in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland.