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Newborn Brain Injury Due to Delayed Delivery

Lawsuit Against Prince George’s Hospital | August of 2021

In August of 2021, WVFO attorneys Christopher Norman and Brian Cathell filed a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a newborn who suffered an avoidable brain injury.

The complaint alleges that the child’s mother was seen on August 14, 2018. She was noted to be 38 weeks and 2 days’ pregnant at that time. The mother’s membranes spontaneously ruptured at about noon on August 15. She reported a moderate amount of fluid with “thin” meconium. She presented to Prince George’s Hospital at approximately 13:25 via ambulance, complaining of labor pains. At triage, her blood pressure was noted to be 156/100, with 5/10 pain. Electronic fetal monitor was started shortly after her arrival, which revealed a category I strip that was reassuring. A cervical exam revealed that the mother was 1 cm dilated and 40% effaced, with the fetus in the -3 station. At 16:56, an order for oxytocin was placed for augmentation of labor. The fetal heart rate tracings remained reassuring at that time. Another cervical exam at 18:35 found the mother’s cervix to be 1 cm dilated (unchanged from the prior exam) and 80% effaced with the fetus in the -3 station. A history and physical was completed by the attending obstetrician at 18:47. He specifically noted that fetal wellbeing was reassuring, and his plan was to augment labor with Pitocin. A nurse began the oxytocin at 19:00. The fetal heart rate tracings remained reassuring until 20:40, when a nurse documented minimal variability. A deep deceleration lasting around 90 seconds occurred at approximately 21:59. At 22:00, a fetal scalp electrode was placed to assess fetal well-being, and the mother was turned to her left side a minute later in an effort to improve oxygenation to the baby. Fetal heart rate decelerations continued at approximately 22:02. At 22:03 the oxytocin was stopped, and supplemental oxygen was given. The fetal heart rate tracings continued to deteriorate and demonstrate signs concerning of reduced oxygenation to the baby for several hours. At 06:15 on August 16, the next morning, a nurse called the attending obstetrician to assess the patient and review the fetal monitoring strip, however, the obstetrician did not arrive until 06:40. Variable decelerations continued. At 07:37, a new nurse assumed care and immediately called the doctor to assess the situation. At 08:00, the nurse documented the presence of variable, prolonged, recurring decelerations. At 08:12, the doctor decided to proceed with a cesarean section due to these ongoing unresolved issues that had been present for several hours. The baby was delivered at approximately 09:01. At birth, she was blue, pale, limp, had no respiratory effort, no reflex irritability, and her heart rate was less than 100. Arterial cord blood pH was noted to be acidotic. Her APGARS were 1, 6, and 9 at 1, 5, and 10 minutes respectively. Neuroimaging has confirmed hypoxic-ischemic damage to the baby’s brain that has and will render her severely and permanently disabled.

The lawsuit alleges that the baby’s injuries were a result of the negligence of Prince George’s 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 Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Maryland.

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