Cerebral palsy is probably the most well-known injury that is often connected to medical negligence during childbirth. Cerebral palsy itself is quite varied, referring to many different kinds of mobility and cognitive challenges. The causes of CP are similarly varied. Sometimes it arises through the fault of no one. Yet, the fact remains that certain misconduct by medical professionals often causes the harm which affects the child for the rest of their lives.
A few different types of errors are seen time and again in legal cases alleging misconduct causing cerebral palsy. One of those cases which recently settled seems to implicate many of the most common errors at once. According to reports on the incident, the lawsuit was recently settled for $2.3 million. Allegations in the case alleged a delayed C-section, trauma from a vacuum extraction, and the ill-advised use of the labor inducement drug Pitocin. Each of these three concerns are commonly at the root of lawsuits where cerebral palsy developed as a result of medical negligence.
The Med Mal Birth Injury Case
The mother in this case was scheduled to give birth to twins in 2004. In mid-September of that year she went to the hospital to deliver the children. Doctors noted that she was nearly fully dilated at that time. About 45 minutes after arriving the medical staff worked with the woman to push in order to deliver the children. However, she had only been pushing for five to ten minutes before a vacuum extraction device was used on one of the twins head. The device was supposed to help get the child out quickly. However, when not used properly it can cause trauma and long-term harm to the child. All told, medical records indicate that the extraction device was used three times.
Later, about an hour and a half after the mother arrived, heart rate monitors indicated that one child might be experiencing fetal distress. At the same time it was discovered that the twins heads were “interlocking.” Together this indicated that the children were “undeliverable.” In fact, not long after this was discovered a C-section birth was ordered. However, that emergency surgical birth did not immediately take place. Instead, the labor inducement drug Pitocin was ordered.
It wasn’t until nearly an hour after the C-section was ordered (and the drug was given) that the emergency surgical birth actually took place. However, by that time, a significant amount of damage was already done. The reports explain that one twin was born blue and limp. He was apneic and no reflex irritability, muscle tone, or respiratory effort. In other words, the serious medical problems were evident right off the bat. He was subsequently diagnosed as having “quadriplegic CP with left hemiparesis, oral motor deficits, and dysphagia.”
During the discovery process following the filing of the birth injury lawsuit, medical experts explained that use of the Pitocin at that time, given the circumstances, was inappropriate. That delayed C-section and inappropriate drug use, they alleged, were the cause of the underlying harm to the child.
These sorts of allegations are unfortunately all too common. Far too many youngsters end up with life-altering injuries which could and should have been prevented if appropriate standards of care were followed at all times during a birth.
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