Mary was admitted to the hospital on September, 2012 with premature rupture of membranes. At that time she was 31 weeks and 6 days into her pregnancy. Her attending obstetrician performed an ultrasound on the same day and calculated that the amniotic fluid index was 5.93 cm. The obstetrician advised hospitalization and to proceed with labour in case there were any signs of infection. According to the records, his admission instructions included bed rest, azithromycin to be administered orally; amoxicillin given intravenously, magnesium sulphate and steroids.
Another ultrasound conducted on September 18, estimated the amniotic fluid index at 3.2 cm and the foetal weight at 2,120 grams. On September 20, Mary started her contractions. On the following day at around 9 in the morning, her attending obstetrician ordered Pitocin stimulation to be started. A few hours later, the obstetrician took over care of her labour and ordered the Pitocin to be held at midnight for two hours and restarted at one-half strength. On September 22, at 8:40 in the morning, he ordered that the Pitocin could exceed 20 milliunits if required.
At 1:20 in the afternoon, Mary gave birth to a baby girl. According to the Delivery Summary, the labor lasted 39 hours and 30 minutes. Out of this, Stage 1 lasted 39 hours and 5 minutes. Unfortunately, the child was born in a critical condition, with Apgar scores recorded as 1 at one minute, 2 at five minutes and 4 at ten minutes. The infants head was molded and there were bruise marks on it. Early in the morning on September 23, the baby was airlifted to another hospital where brain imaging revealed diffuse hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Placental pathology showed presence of acute chorioamnionitis. While Mary was discharged from the hospital on September 23, 2012; the baby could only come home on October 9, 2012.
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is caused by the lack of oxygen and is one of the most common types of brain damage. This often results in cerebral palsy. Causing developmental problems, motor impairments or cognitive delays, the severity of the problem can only be determined when the child is 3 to 4 years old. Although an infant’s body can handle short periods of depleted oxygen, the brain tissues get damaged or destroyed if the depletion lasts for a long time. Neonatal asphyxia is one of the leading causes of death in newborns. Though it commonly occurs in full term babies, premature babies are also impacted by it.
Mary’s discharge summary was dictated on February 21, 2013, approximately five months after her discharge from the hospital. According to the records accessed, her discharge summary included notes like “was kept busy with different videos,” ‘she did quite well at the hospital,” “delivered a healthy baby girl” and “the baby was doing very well in the nursery”. However, Mary’s little 3 years old girl has cerebral palsy and is permanently injured.
Mary has filed a birth injury lawsuit against the obstetrician and the Kansas hospital, where she delivered her baby. One of the most important aspects of the lawsuit is that Mary is and was legally blind at the time of her admission to the hospital. There are no signatures on the Consent to and Conditions of Admission to the hospital. Her lawsuit includes two causes of action – one regarding the consent and the other of medical negligence against both the doctor and the hospital.
- Birth Injury Overview. (2015). Retrieved October 12, 2015, from Accidents and Injuries » Medical Malpractice: http://injury.findlaw.com/medical-malpractice/birth-injury-overview.html
- Boeschen, C. (2015). Birth-Related Medical Malpractice. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from Legal Topics > Accidents & Injuries > Medical Malpractice: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/birth-related-medical-malpractice-30150.html
- Medical Malpractice During Childbirth: A Legal Overview. (2015). Retrieved October 12, 2015, from All Law: http://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/medical-malpractice/childbirth.html
- Woods, L. (2015, October 08). Mother Accuses Hospital, Doctor of Birth Injury Malpractice. Retrieved October 12, 2015 , from BIRTH INJURY: http://injurylawyer-news.com/2015/10/mother-accuses-hospital-doctor-birth-injury-malpractice/
- Yoo, S. (2014, July 08). Lawsuit over birth injury: Misfortune or malpractice? Retrieved October 12, 2015, from Statesman Journal: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/health/2014/05/24/lawsuit-birth-injury-misfortune-malpractice/9466311/