Newborn Brain Injury Due To Delayed Delivery
Lawsuit Against The Finley Hospital
On August 15, 2023, WVFK&N attorneys Mary Koch and Sarah Smith filed a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a newborn who suffered an avoidable brain injury.
The complaint alleges that on January 22, 2018, the child’s mother was 38 weeks and 5 days gestation when she presented to Finley Hospital at approximately 22:30 complaining of irregular contractions since approximately 18:30. She denied bleeding and leaking fluid, reported fetal movement was present. At 23:04, a nurse noted that the mother was fingertip dilated, 10% effaced, and the baby was at -2 station. The nurse also noted that the fetal heartrate (“FHR”) had a baseline of 150 beats per minute (“BPM”), moderate variability and variable decelerations, with mild contractions every 1.5-4 minutes lasting 40-90 seconds. The nurse also notes that fetal movement is present. At 23:35 the FHR baseline was 160 BPM with minimal to moderate variability and variable decelerations with mild contractions every 3-4 minutes lasting 50-60 seconds and fetal movement present. At 00:20, the nurse noted that the mother was now 2 centimeters dilated and gave a phone update to the doctor “regarding minimal variability, variable decels, occasional late decel. FHR baseline, contraction pattern, see orders.” The nurse called the doctor about these findings because they are indicative of a baby that is becoming distressed in utero. Despite the nurse’s call to express these concerns, the doctor did not order a cesarean section delivery at that time and the monitor showed deteriorating fetal well-being. At 01:52, another nurse noted that the doctor was called again with an update on the fetal heart tracing and that the doctor would “be in shortly.” At 02:00, the nurse noted that the doctor was at the bedside, and that artificial rupture of membranes revealed thick meconium. A fetal scalp electrode and intrauterine pressure catheter were placed. At 02:15, the FHR baseline was 160 BPM with minimal variability and variable decelerations with contractions every 3-5 minutes. Fetal movement was noted to be present. At 02:30, the FHR baseline was 160 BPM with minimal variability and variable decelerations with contractions every 3-5 minutes. The nurse noted that the operating room was notified at that time of a probable cesarean section delivery. At 02:45, the FHR baseline was 160 BPM with minimal variability and variable decelerations with contractions every 3-4 minutes. At 02:59, the FHR baseline was 160 BPM with minimal variability and variable decelerations with contractions every 4-5 minutes. At 03:05, the nurse noted that the doctors were at the bedside discussing the risks and benefits of cesarean section. At 03:26, the mother is noted to be in the operating room. At 03:32, a spinal epidural is administered, and the nurse noted FHR decelerations to the 60’s with return to baseline of 165 BPM. The baby was delivered at 03:52 with Apgar scores of 2, 2, 3, 3, and 4 and 1, 5, 10, 15 and 20 minutes respectively. Cord blood gases were not noted due to the umbilical cord being dropped on the floor. The baby was transferred to Unity Point St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, respiratory distress, and possible sepsis. The baby underwent 72 hours of whole-body cooling for treatment of presumed hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Today, the baby suffers from brain damage, spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and other injuries and damages.
The lawsuit alleges that the injuries were a result of the negligence of Finley Hospital and its employees in failing to timely respond to clinical signs and failing to timely deliver the baby.
The action is pending in the District Court for Dubuque County, Iowa.