Newborn Brain Injury Due to Delayed Delivery
Lawsuit Against Doctors Hospital of Augusta | August 9, 2021
On August 9, 2021, WVFK&N attorneys Keith Forman and Catherine Spalluzzi filed a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a newborn who suffered an avoidable brain injury.
The complaint alleges that the mother’s prenatal course was complicated by advanced maternal age, hypothyroidism, which was treated with Synthroid, and HSV-2, which was treated with Valtrex. Despite these complications, the baby was consistently tested and consistently demonstrated reassuring findings. On August 17, 2019, at approximately 12:20, the mother presented to Doctors Hospital Augusta with complaints of contractions. A vaginal exam revealed that she was 1 to 3 cm dilated and actively contracting. She was 39 weeks and 1 day’s gestation. She was admitted for labor and anticipated vaginal delivery. At approximately 12:40 on August 17, 2019, she was connected to an electronic fetal monitor. The initial fetal monitoring was predominantly Category I, indicating the baby was non-acidotic and neurologically intact. She continued to labor throughout the evening of August 17, 2019. Throughout this period, her vital signs were reassuring, and the fetal heart rate tracing was predominantly reassuring. At approximately 01:40 on August 18, 2019, the mother’s membranes spontaneously ruptured. Upon rupture, there was a large amount of meconium stained amniotic fluid. At approximately 01:44, the fetal heart rate monitoring became non-reassuring with a prolonged deceleration with minimal variability, followed by deep variable decelerations. The timing of these fetal heart rate changes in relation to rupture of membranes was highly indicative of an umbilical cord issue such as an umbilical cord prolapse. At approximately 01:50, the nurse performed a vaginal exam. This exam revealed that the mother was 9 centimeters dilated and 100 percent effaced. At this same time, the nurse placed a fetal scalp electrode (“FSE”). She did not observe or document the presence of the umbilical cord following the vaginal exam and placement of the FSE, and did not document an umbilical cord prolapse. At approximately 01:55, the doctor was notified. At approximately 02:02, the fetal heart rate tracing was non-reassuring with deep variable decelerations and minimal to absent variability. By approximately 02:08, the fetal heart rate tracing was terminally bradycardic and the baby was being asphyxiated in utero. At approximately 02:11, the doctor arrived at the bedside. He noted a prolapsed cord and proceeded with a vaginal delivery with vacuum assistance. At approximately 02:18 on August 18, 2019, the baby was born. At birth, he was pale, flaccid and without respiratory effort. The baby was thereafter diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Today, the child suffers from global developmental delay, and other injuries and damages, as a result of his hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and brain damage.
The lawsuit alleges that the baby’s injuries were a result of the negligence of Doctors Hospital of Augusta and its employees in failing to timely respond to concerning clinical signs and failing to appropriately deliver the baby.
The action is pending in the Superior Court of Richmond County, Georgia.