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Jurors Find Brain Damage at Birth Not Due to Hospital Error

Birth InjuryA jury has found that brain damage at birth to a child born at Mercy Hospital in Washington, Missouri, was not the fault of hospital staff. The jury ruled in favor of the defendant, Mercy Hospital, determining the staff took the proper steps during the labor of the plaintiff mother and the eventual Cesarean delivery of her child.

Absence of movement began process

According to the plaintiff mother, she was referred to the hospital close to her due date, due to an absence of fetal movement. Monitoring was immediately ordered for the mother, as well as a biophysical profile, and a decision was made to induce labor and deliver the child. The plaintiff mother agreed to the inducement, according to the defendants. During the inducement process, the baby’s heart rate began to decelerate and a Cesarean delivery was then performed with the agreement of the plaintiff mother.

At the time of birth, the baby was noted to have normal cord blood gas and relatively good Apgar scores. However, shortly after birth, the child began to have seizures. Hospital staff also noted the child clenching the fist and jaw. According to an attorney for the defendant, there was evidence of edema damage to the brain tissue.

Cesarean should have been performed first, plaintiff alleges

The plaintiff alleged that because of the lack of fetal movement and the questionable test results, a Cesarean delivery should have been performed immediately. The plaintiff further asserted that the attempt to induce labor led to the deceleration of the baby’s heart rate and brain damage. The defendants countered her allegations, saying that based on current literature, proper standard of care included a vaginal delivery if the patient wanted it.

The jury determined, based on the evidence presented, that the injury did not likely occur during the labor and delivery process. The jurors agreed with the defendant’s assertion that the damage probably occurred at the time movement decreased, causing the brain damage. Whatever the cause, it was likely corrected in utero, preventing the death of the baby prior to delivery.

Causes of brain injury

Although there are many causes of brain injury in a newborn child, one of the most common is oxygen deprivation during the labor and delivery process. When the condition of the baby changes during this time, quick thinking and action by hospital staff often makes the difference between a baby that is born healthy and one that is born with significant brain damage. Errors or failure to respond to warning signs promptly can result in life-changing injury for the child and the entire family.

Cerebral palsy, one of the most frequent results of brain damage at birth, is a lifelong condition that often requires constant medical care.

Other types of brain damage can also injure a child for life, rendering them unable to care for themselves. If the brain damage can be linked directly to negligence or mistakes made in the delivery room, the hospital and attending staff can be held liable for injuries. In these cases, parent plaintiffs are often awarded damages by a jury to help pay for medical treatment and other types of care the child will require throughout life.