Home > Legal > Doctor Settles Case For $1.0 Million After Not Diagnosing Signs Of Fetal Distress

Doctor Settles Case For $1.0 Million After Not Diagnosing Signs Of Fetal Distress

Critical difficulties might happen after a pregnant woman begins labor and prior to her giving birth to her child. Physicians are responsible for monitoring the woman's progress. In addition, they are expected to be able to notice signs that a complication has come up which can jeopardize the wellbeing of the unborn baby. Moreover, the are supposed to react correctly and without hesitation. When they fail to do so, as when a doctor refuses to budge from hir or her opinion that the expectant mother's labor is proceeding without problems and that the unborn baby is fine even when the available information clearly shows otherwise, the consequence may be a baby with a lifelong disability - a disability that was preventable.
In one case an expectant mother took herself to the hospital in active labor. In the course of the nine hours following her admission the nurse following her condition noted that the tracing from the fetal heart rate monitor was reactive and reassuring. The unborn child's heart rate then began to climb. The fetal heart rate actually got up to the 170-180 bpm (beats per minute) range and still the doctor kept to the position that this was normal and that there was not any need for emergency action. Eventually, the obstetrician delivered the child through a natural childbirth.
Once the baby was born he was taken to NICU. Once at NICU he was in lengthy initial depression and went into respiratory distress. Testing revealed that he had bleeding in the brain and that there was an accumulation of blood under the scalp. Within days an MRI showed that the infant had suffered brain damage. This type of brain damage is consistent with oxygen deprivation prior to birth which would explain the extreme fetal distress that had been revealed by the fetal heart rate monitor.
Within days seizures set in suspicious for continual metabolic acidosis. As a result of these injuries the child suffered from serious speech difficulty and from physical (motor) limitations. The law firm that handled the case was able to report that they were able to settle the matterthat they achieved a settlement for.
This case demonstrates an all too frequent phenomenon. The physician faced with a situation in which the unborn baby was obviously in fetal distress. The doctor however carried on as if labor was advancing without incident. The doctor saw the complication taking place and getting worse literally right in front of his eyes. It is as if as events progressed this doctor's threshold for realizing that the baby was in jeopardy became progressively more difficult to fulfill so that although the fetal distress had reached an ominous stage, the doctor still proceeded with a vaginal delivery as opposed to performing an emergency C-section.
This doctor acted as if the patient was a woman with a completely normal labor. All the signs required to recognize that the child was in fetal distress and required attention right away were there, right in front of the physician. It is difficult to say whether this physician walked away with a lesson from this mistake so as not to repeat it again with another baby in the future. When a doctor has committed an error that injures the baby for life, though, an experienced birth injury attorney can assist the family achieve a recovery that protects the child's future.
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