Newborn Brain Injury Due To Delayed Delivery
Lawsuit Against Bellin Memorial Hospital
On May 9, 2023, WVFK&N attorneys Mary Koch and Robert Lewis filed a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a baby who suffered an avoidable brain injury.
The complaint alleges that on January 19, 2020, the baby’s mother arrived at Dickenson County Hospital labor and delivery unit with reports of regular contractions occurring about every 3-4 minutes, and was noted to be 2 cm dilated, 50% effaced, and -2 station. Fetal heart tones were noted to be in the 140s with “decent variability,” no decelerations were noted, and contractions were occurring about every 3-5 minutes. The providers started magnesium sulfate and, due to the prematurity of the baby, initiated transfer to a higher-level facility, with a NICU. The mother was then transferred to Bellin Hospital at approximately 08:25 and arrived via ambulance at Bellin Hospital by 10:50 on January 19, 2020. Electronic fetal monitoring (“EFM”) was initiated at Bellin Hospital at approximately 10:54. The doctor at admission noted, among other things, that the mother was 2/50%/-2 at Dickenson County Hospital, had been started on MgSO4 (magnesium sulfate), and that she had received betamethasone (steroids for fetal lung development) on January 13th and January 14th. The doctor noted that she performed a vaginal exam and recorded the patient as 1-2 cm / thick / high, and reported that the fetal heart tracing was Category 1 (reassuring), and contractions were every 8-10 minutes, and the plan was to continue MgSo4, with a C-section planned for February 3, 2020. Beginning at 11:30 on January 19th, the fetal heart rate began exhibiting variable and late decelerations. From 1500 until 2300, the nurse continued to document a Cat II FHR with late and variable decelerations, minimal variability, and no accelerations. A new nurse assumed care on the morning of January 20th, and noted late and variable decelerations, until 10:00 when she noted a Cat II strip with recurrent late decelerations, and alerted the doctor. The nurses continued to document late decelerations and a Cat II strip throughout the remainder of their shift. A new nurse appears to have assumed care of the patient at approximately 20:00 on January 20th, and noted late decelerations and a Cat II strip. She continued to note late decelerations and a Cat II strip, with increasing periods of minimal variability, until 02:22 on January 21st, when the doctor saw the patient. The doctor noted “came out to further evaluate FHTs. With manipulation of baby I was able to elicit acceleration, therefore concern would be decreased. Will continue to monitor closely.” The nurse continued to document a Cat II strip, with minimal variability and late and variable decelerations for the remainder of her shift. This pattern of variable and late decelerations with minimal variability continued until 08:00 on January 23rd. The patient was moved to the Operating Room at 08:15, when the heart rate dropped into the 100s. The baby was born at 08:23 on January 23rd by emergent C-section delivery. He was assigned Apgar scores of 1, 2, and 2 at one, five and ten minutes, respectively. The NICU was called for transport in anticipation of whole-body cooling. Arterial Cord Blood pH was noted only as <7.00, and Base Excess could not be determined. Venous Cord Blood pH was 7.14 and Base Excess was -11. The baby underwent a series of testing, including EEG, head ultrasound, and MRI, that demonstrated severe, permanent neurological injury. The lawsuit alleges that the injuries were a result of the negligence of Bellin Memorial Hospital and its employees in failing to properly and timely respond to concerning clinical signs. The action is pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.