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Cesarean delayed unnecessarily.

AT 37 WEEKS' GESTATION, a mother reported decreased fetal movement. When the biophysical profile test scored 8/8 and the fetal heart rate was reassuring, the attending ObGyn discharged the patient. However, it was the middle of the night, and the nurse kept the mother in the emergency department (ED). At 8:30 am, the fetus began to show signs of fetal distress. Three ObGyns agreed to monitor labor, although one physician wanted delivery to occur that morning.

The next morning, a second biophysical profile scored 2/8, but the on-call ObGyn misunderstood the score as 6/8 and scheduled cesarean delivery for noon. Two hours after the second biophysical profile, the fetal heart rate crashed. A nurse called the ObGyn, who began an emergency cesarean 15 minutes later. The baby, born lifeless, was resuscitated. The child suffered permanent brain damage, and has cerebral palsy, severe cognitive deficits and speech deficits, and walks with an abnormal gait.

* PARENTS' CLAIM A physician did not see the patient for 24 hours, once the decision was made to monitor the mother, even though the fetal heart rate continued to decline. A biophysical profile test score of 2/8 indicates the need for immediate delivery. An earlier cesarean delivery could have reduced the child's injuries.

* DEFENDANTS' DEFENSE After a settlement was reached with the hospital, the trial continued against the delivering ObGyn. He claimed that decreased fetal movement indicated that the brain injury had occurred 1 to 4 days before the mother came to the ED. The technician had manipulated the mother's abdomen to wake the fetus before starting the first biophysical profile, which invalidated the score. The nurse miscommunicated the score of the second biophysical profile.

* VERDICT A gross $29.8 million Illinois verdict was returned that included a $1.65 million settlement with the hospital.

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Title Annotation:Medical Verdicts: NOTABLE JUDGMENTS AND SETTLEMENTS
Publication:OBG Management
Date:Apr 1, 2014
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