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NC Doctor in 3 Home Birth-Related Deaths a Defendant in 2007 Lawsuit

mother holding baby's footA doctor in Asheville, North Carolina who is currently under investigation by the state’s medical board for the deaths of three infants during or just after home births he attended was also sued in 2007 in a birth injury lawsuit.

The child in question was born in October of 2005 and her parents have alleged that their daughter suffered permanent disability as a result of substandard medical treatment that Dr. John David Hayes provided during their child’s birth.

The lawsuit that they have filed states that the child “… has sustained permanent injuries and disfigurement and has lost the normal use of her left arm and hand” and “will suffer for the rest of her life physical pain and mental suffering.” The infant also sustained skull fractures during the birth but did not have any permanent neurological damage.

Birth injury lawsuit ends in default judgment against doctor

The child’s parents filed suit against Oakland Park Women’s Health, where Dr. Hayes practices, and Pardee Hospital, as well as Dr. Hayes himself. Because the doctor did not respond to the lawsuit, court officials entered a default judgment against Dr. Hayes and his clinic (though not the hospital) in November of 2010.

Although the attorney for the plaintiff has stated that the judgment “essentially means the allegations in the complaint are accepted as true,” an attorney for Dr. Hayes has countered that “Dr. Hayes does not admit to any of the allegations in the lawsuit filed in 2007.”

Multiple allegations in lawsuit

The medical malpractice lawsuit cites numerous instances of alleged negligent behavior on the part of Dr. Hayes during the 2005 birth of the child in question. Allegations include:

  1. The continued usage of forceps and vacuum extractor “despite the fact that same was contraindicated in (child’s) case and his initial attempt had failed”
  2. Permission for vaginal delivery “despite an abnormal first and second stage of labor, an abnormal labor curve, an abnormal pattern of fetal descent, her unproven pelvis, and the presence of multiple risk factors for a shoulder dystocia”
  3. Failure to carry out a cesarean section in time to prevent injury

Shoulder dystocia occurs when an infant’s shoulder gets stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone during labor and delivery. Incorrect handling of the situation can result in permanent nerve damage, often leading to arm and hand disfigurements and paralysis such as the injury described in the lawsuit.

Doctor ordered to stop delivering babies after three infant deaths

Dr. Hayes has most recently been ordered to stop delivering babies by the North Carolina Medical Board while they investigate the deaths of three infants who died during or shortly after home births that he attended. The doctor has agreed to cease deliveries until a disciplinary hearing is held.

One expert who has looked closely at medical records related to the cases found that the care provided by the doctor was “below the standard of practice and care for doctors practicing in North Carolina.” No action has yet been taken against the doctor, though the possibility still exists. The deaths of the babies came to the board’s attention through private complaints, though officials could not disclose details concerning these complaints.

  1. Asheville Citizen Times, Asheville doctor ordered to stop delivering babies after three die

  2. Asheville Citizen Times, Asheville doctor in home-birth deaths sued in 2007

  3. Asheville Citizen Times, Asheville doctor disputes claims in babies’ deaths