Massachusetts Trial Results in $5 Million Birth Injury Settlement

Shay Morrigan | February 1st, 2013 | Posted in Recent Settlements

Medical Malpractice AttorneyAfter an eight-day trial in Massachusetts, the parties in a brain damage lawsuit settled for $5 million. The plaintiffs included an 11-year-old boy with significant neurological injuries and his mother, who claimed that the certified nurse midwife and an obstetrician were negligent in caring for her unborn child just days before his birth.

Represented by her birth injury attorney, the plaintiff stated that the nurse midwife failed to notice key signs of fetal distress the day before delivery. Had these signs been properly attended to, healthcare professionals likely would have engaged in a faster, more appropriate medical response that could have saved the baby from harm.

Birth injury attorney relates facts of the case

According to the complaint drawn up by her birth injury attorney, the plaintiff’s baby was due on August 25, 1997. Through July, all tests came back normal. Over the July 4th weekend, however, the plaintiff noticed the fetus seemed to be less active. She attended an appointment on July 7, and agreed to allow a student to be part of the exam. She expected the certified nurse to oversee all activity, however, which was not the case. Instead, she was told that the nurse had to leave to pick up her children.

Meanwhile, the student recorded several concerning findings, including an elevated blood pressure, breech presentation, abnormal quantities of protein in the urine (proteinuria), and edema from the midcalf down. The fetal heart rate was also lower than it had been previously.

Plaintiff notes lack of quick medical response

The student’s findings, had they been properly reported to a certified nurse or obstetrician, may have resulted in a faster response. In fact, babies who are in a breech position near term are unlikely to turn on their own—the vast majority arrives by c-section, which has shown to be the safest option.

It’s also common knowledge that high blood pressure and proteinuria can signify “preeclampsia,” which can be deadly to both mother and baby. It can keep the baby from getting enough blood and oxygen, which can result in brain damage, such as that reported in a cerebral palsy lawsuit. Since the only “cure” is to deliver the baby, doctors often elect to deliver early to protect the health of the mother and/or the baby.

Plaintiff claims negligence in brain damage lawsuit

In this case, however, the mother was sent home and didn’t return to the doctor’s office until the next day for a stress test. The plaintiff claims that considering the concerning findings, the test should have been done the same day, which would have likely resulted in a more timely delivery and the avoidance of the brain damage to the baby.

As it was, the plaintiff went through the stress test the next day, and was sent to St. Vincent’s Hospital, where she remained for over four hours. During this time, the fetal heart rate was non-reassuring, yet the obstetrician in charge testified she thought the baby was sleeping. As a result, she didn’t rush to transfer the baby to a hospital where he could have been safely delivered, until hours later.

The baby was eventually delivered via cesarean section. He had a low birth weight, a heart rate of less than 40, and poor respiratory effort. He remained in the nursery for 57 days. Medical reports showed he suffered from oxygen deprivation while in utero, and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a condition in which the brain does not receive enough oxygen. He also suffered bleeding in the brain, and later, death of small areas of brain tissue. He now suffers from blindness, hearing impairment, seizures, and spasms.

Consult a cerebral palsy lawyer

If you or a loved one had a child who suffered from oxygen deprivation while in utero, and as a result suffers from brain damage or related injuries, you may be able to hold the hospital and medical staff libale for medical negligence. Contact the birth injury lawyers at Balkin & Eisbrouch to learn more about your legal rights. We have over 40 years experience fighting for the rights of children harmed by substandard care, and can help your family to receive the compensation you deserve. Call toll-free: 855-60-BIRTH.