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Newborn Death Due to Delayed Delivery | December 13, 2021

Lawsuit Against Loyola University Medical Center

On December 13, 2021, WVFk&N attorney Christopher Norman filed a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a newborn who died because of negligence.

The complaint alleges that on July 15, 2020, the mother was admitted to McHenry Hospital with complaints of abdominal pain. The fetal status at the time was reassuring. While at McHenry, the mother developed a fever and decreased oxygen saturations. She was also noted to have elevated liver function tests, and anemia. Unable to determine the cause of her condition, the providers started her on empirical broad-spectrum antibiotics. The mother was transferred to the ICU. The fetal status remained reassuring during this time. As a result of the decline in her condition, the mother was transferred to Javon Bea Hospital on July 16, 2020. While at Javon Bea, maternal fetal medicine determined that the possibility of fetal compromise was low. The fetal status remained reassuring during her time at Javon Bea, and a full course of antenatal corticosteroids was completed by July 18 in anticipation of the potential need for preterm delivery. On July 22, 2020, the mother was transferred from Javon Bea Hospital to Loyola University Medical Center for further hematologic workup. On the day of admission, the fetal heart tracing was noted to be reassuring, and there were no obstetrical concerns. On July 25, 2020, at approximately 22:30, the mother developed shivering and worsening abdominal pain. She was febrile, tachypnic and tachycardic. Her oxygen saturations significantly dropped to 86%. She was noted to be in shock with respiratory failure. Fetal status remained reassuring at this time. At approximately 00:46 on the 26th of July, providers found the mother to have tenuous vital signs including a markedly reduced oxygen saturation in the low 80s with a maternal heart rate to the 190s. The mother remained hypoxic despite maximum oxygen support, and a respiratory code was called. She was then intubated and medically sedated and paralyzed. A doctor noted that an NST was performed, which showed a baseline of 155, min/mod var, the presence of accelerations, and the absence of decelerations. Despite this significant, sudden maternal decompensation, continuous fetal monitoring was not employed at this time. In fact, according to the records, the fetal status was not monitored at all from approximately 0113 through 0607. A nurse presented to the bedside at 06:00 on July 26th to obtain an NST. The fetal monitoring strip at this time shows a baseline fetal heart rate of 130 with absent variability and a sinusoidal pattern – a relatively rare but ominous finding that is associated with high rates of fetal morbidity and mortality. There is no indication in the medical records that either the nurse of the doctor identified the sinusoidal fetal heart rate pattern in real-time. The mother was taken back off the fetal monitor again at this time. At 06:53, the nurse was called by the doctor and instructed to return to the MICU and place the mother back on the monitor. The nurse replaced the fetal monitor but was unable to obtain any fetal heart tones. The doctor was notified of the absence of detectible fetal heart tones at 06:58 and asked to come to the bedside with an ultrasound. The doctor was also unable to detect a fetal heart rate. The decision was made to proceed with an emergent cesarean delivery. The baby emerged lifeless, with APGARS of 0, 0, and 4 at 1, 5, and 10 minutes respectively. At the time, he was 27 weeks and 3 days gestation. The providers documented an impression of perinatal asphyxia. Despite aggressive resuscitation, the baby continued to struggle. The baby lived for five hours before the decision was made to extubate him and withdraw support to limit suffering and not prolong his death. The baby was pronounced dead at 12:45 on July 26, 2020.

The lawsuit alleges that the child’s death was a result of the negligence of Loyola University Medical Center 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 Cook County, Illinois.

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