Newborn Brain Injury Due To Delayed Delivery
Lawsuit Against Advocate Sherman Hospital
On March 1, 2023, WVFK&N attorneys John LaMantia and Keith Forman filed a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a newborn who suffered an avoidable brain injury.
The complaint alleges that at 8:15 AM on August 18, 2021, the child’s mother presented to Advocate Sherman Hospital for induction of labor secondary to post-dates. At the time of her presentation, the mother was at 40 weeks 6 days gestation. According to a vaginal examination performed shortly after admission, the mother was 6 cm dilated. Around 9:00 AM, the nurse communicated a fetal heart rate baseline of 160 bpm, moderate variability, and accelerations consistent with an overall healthy and well-oxygenated fetus. Thirty minutes later, the nurse reported a continued baseline of 160 bpm, moderate variability, and the onset of variable decelerations. At 9:56 AM, the nurse performed a repeat vaginal examination documenting cervical dilation of 7.5 cm. Shortly thereafter, there was a tachycardic rise in the fetal heart rate baseline. At around 10:55 AM, the fetal heart rate tracing briefly resumed before exhibiting multiple deep decelerations requiring more than 60 seconds to return to baseline. In response to these marked decelerations, at 11:00 AM, the nurse issued a notification to the attending doctor requesting she “Attend Delivery.” The doctor “did not answer” the nurse’s notification at this time. The nurse called the doctor on at least three additional occasions at 11:05, 11:07, and 11:10 AM all of which were documented as “no answer.” During these attempts to notify the doctor, the fetal heart rate tracing continued to exhibit repetitive prolonged-type decelerations. At around 11:12 AM, a different obstetrician presented to the operating room at which time she artificially ruptured membranes revealing thick meconium. Subsequently, a fetal scalp electrode was placed. According to the examination at this time, the mother’s cervix was now fully dilated. During this time, the fetal heart rate baseline remained tachycardic with minimal variability. At 11:28 AM the attending doctor finally arrived and communicated to the nurse that pushing towards a vaginal delivery could begin. Yet, there is no documentation in the records of the attending doctor performing an independent cervical examination of the mother. Around 11:29 AM, the mother began pushing. After beginning pushing, the nurse documented a fetal heart rate baseline of 170 bpm with moderate variability and variable decelerations. As pushing continued, there was an onset of late decelerations with each uterine contraction. Shortly after the onset of late decelerations, the nurse documented that the attending doctor issued an order to continue pushing. At 12:06 PM the attending doctor was noted as still aware of the continued late decelerations and, in response, instructed the nurse to “stay and push in OR” as she was “going to check a patient.” At 12:29 PM, the nurse performed a vaginal examination confirming that the mother’s cervix was only 8 cm dilated. Around 12:35 PM, the attending doctor performed her first documented vaginal examination reporting “patient still has cervix noted, patient -2 station.” The decision to proceed with cesarean delivery was made at 12:44 PM secondary to fetal intolerance to labor. The baby was delivered via cesarean section at 1:06 PM on August 18, 2021. At birth, he was reported as limp, cyanotic, and without respiratory effort requiring immediate neonatal resuscitative efforts. The baby’s initial Apgar scores were reported as 1, 3, and 5 at one, five, and ten minutes of life, respectively, evidencing neonatal depression. Initial umbilical cord blood gases were drawn and showed evidence of metabolic acidosis with a pH of 7.14 and base excess of -13. The child was diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.
The lawsuit alleges that the injuries were a result of the negligence of Advocate Sherman Hospital and its employees in failing to timely respond to concerning clinical signs and failing to timely deliver the baby.
The action is pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.