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Birth Injury Case Filed in Colorado Alleges Wrongful Death

infant holding mother's hand

Following the untimely loss of their newborn child, a couple recently filed a birth injury lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado – alleging, among other things, the wrongful death of their twin son after a forceps-assisted delivery resulted in severe head trauma and internal bleeding in their baby immediately after birth.

The lawsuit was filed on December 29, 2014, and consists of several causes of action against both the attending obstetrician and the University of Colorado Health Memorial Hospital North, specifically targeting its treatment of the baby in the days following its delivery – including the decision to admit the baby to a lower-tier NICU facility when more acute care was needed.

Forceps birth injury lawsuit details

Forceps are a medical device used to aid and assist in the vaginal delivery of infants. While, in most cases, the device is used to help deliver larger infants from the birth canal, forceps were used in this case to deliver a pre-term infant having presented in a vertex fetal presentation and an occiput anterior fetal position – making delivery more difficult.

The decedent in this wrongful death action was the second born of a set of twins. The mother’s pregnancy had been relatively uncomplicated, until she began experiencing contractions and pooling at approximately 32 weeks’ gestation. According to the allegations, the parents were never informed that a Caesarian section delivery was an option, and the mother progressed with an induced vaginal delivery of both babies.

Also contained within plaintiffs’ complaint is the allegation that neither was apprised of the structure of the NICU facilities at the University of Colorado’ Health Memorial Hospital, including the fact that it maintained two NICU’s – one allowing for a higher degree of technical and complex post-partum procedures than the other.

Immediately following the birth of the second twin, obstetric nurses began to notice indentation marks from the forceps on the child’s scalp. From there, the child turned from vibrant and healthy (with a one-minute APGAR score of 9) to pale and listless. Within hours, the child was diagnosed with several life-threatening conditions, including subdural hemotomas, major bleeding on the brain, and pronounced respiratory failure. Approximately four days after his birth, he succumbed to the effects of his condition and was pronounced dead.

Causes of action brought in wrongful death case

The plaintiffs center their complaint around the cause of action for wrongful death, specifically alleging that both the doctor and hospital was not reasonably cautious in the use of forceps, the monitoring of the baby before and during delivery, and the protocol for the care of the infant following birth.

Beginning with the obstetrician, plaintiffs allege the following:

  • Failure to evaluate the baby
  • Failure to deliver him properly
  • Failure to monitor cord gases during delivery
  • Failure to attempt intrauterine resuscitation prior to resorting to a forceps delivery
  • Failure to properly apprise plaintiffs of the risks and benefits of the plan of care in place for the decedent
  • Failure to properly transfer the infant to a NICU facility that could adequately meet his needs

The plaintiffs also reiterated their allegations against the hospital, relying on the doctrine of vicarious liability to hold the facility liable for the acts of its employees.

Plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages, as well as damages for the loss of companionship and emotional turmoil experienced due to the loss of their child.