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Bereaved Mother Demands GYD $20 Million for Stillbirth Negligence

Illustration depicting a sign with a medical negligence concept.

The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) in Georgetown, Guyana recently received notice of at least two medical malpractice lawsuits, one of which alleges negligence in the delivery of a stillborn child. Both of the mothers are demanding compensatory damages in excess of $20 million Guyanese Dollars (GYD) for their losses. Under personal injury law in Guyana, GPHC has 10 days to respond to a lawsuit from the date that it was filed.

Medical malpractice allegedly led to stillbirth

The first lawsuit was filed by a 34-year-old woman from Good Hope, East Coast Demerara. She was admitted to the maternity ward of the Georgetown hospital on November 16, 2015. Her lawsuit claims that her baby died as a direct result of the actions and omissions of the attending healthcare providers at the hospital. A preliminary report suggested that the baby died because of velamentous cord insertion. This is an abnormal condition of pregnancy that means the umbilical vessels go into the fetal membranes before traveling to the placenta. Because the vessels are exposed, they are not protected by Wharton’s jelly and are susceptible to rupturing.

According to The Guyana Chronicle, Dr. George Norton, the Minister of Public Health, stated that, “This condition is considered as a congenital malformation and as the mother goes into labour the cord becomes detached from the placenta causing the baby to die before birth is completed from lack of blood.”

The bereaved mother is demanding $10 million for the alleged acts or omissions of the healthcare providers, which she claims caused her child’s death. She is demanding another $10 million for her personal injuries, and pain and suffering.

Second baby suffered a fractured shoulder

The second medical malpractice lawsuit was filed by a 29-year-old mother from Essequibo Coast. She is suing both the GPHC and a doctor at the Suddie Public Hospital, as well as the Attorney General. According to this lawsuit, the mother presented at the hospital for labor and delivery on October 26, 2015. She claims that the attending doctor used excessive force and pulled the baby out of the birth canal by his shoulder. This action allegedly caused the child to suffer a fractured shoulder.

Details are lacking regarding this birth injury lawsuit; however, given the brief description of the mother’s claims, it appears that the mother may have endured a prolonged or difficult labor. Often, mothers who experience prolonged or difficult labors are advised to consider an emergency C-section, which may help prevent injury to the baby such as oxygen deprivation of the brain.

Mothers who are giving birth to large babies are at a heightened risk of prolonged labor and difficult childbirth. It is unknown if the attending doctor in this case may have recommended an emergency C-section.

It is also unknown if the doctor may have improperly used equipment such as forceps and a vacuum extractor during the vaginal delivery of the child. Sometimes, improper use of vacuum extractors can lead to shoulder injuries, including bone fractures and nerve damage of the brachial plexus. The baby’s specific impairments are unknown; however, the mother is demanding $20 million in compensatory damages.

  1. The Guyana Chronicle, Mother sues GPHC following stillbirth delivery,

  2. The Guyana Chronicle, Essequibo woman files $20M lawsuit against Suddie Hospital doctor,