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Family Files Erbs Palsy Lawsuit Against Federal Hospital Employees

newborn in intensive care unit

On July 10, 2015, the parents of a son allegedly injured during the childbirth process filed a lawsuit seeking at least $12 million in damages. The plaintiffs name the United States of America as the sole defendant in the lawsuit, and allege that the federally-managed hospital known as the Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida, Inc. committed compensable negligence in the treatment of both the child and his mother during the birthing process.

Accordingly, the plaintiffs name the midwife, obstetrician, and several labor and delivery nurses as responsible for their child developing possibly irreversible Erb’s Palsy following a long and difficult labor.

Allegations surrounding the birth

According to the Erb’s Palsy lawsuit, the mother has suffered from Type II diabetes since the age of 11. She is a mere 4’ 8” tall, and reportedly gained 40 pounds during her pregnancy – putting her at a heightened risk for gestational diabetes and a larger-than-average baby.

On November 27, 2013, the mother presented at the Family Health Center at 38 weeks 1 day gestation, weighing approximately 200 pounds, and began the labor induction process at the direction of her doctor. Immediately prior, a fetal sonogram estimated the baby’s weight at approximately 7 pounds, 12 ounces. After approximately seven hours with a Pitocin drip, the mother was measured at 10 centimeters dilatation, 100 percent effacement, and a +2 station. In other words, it was time to begin pushing.

Allegedly, it took nearly ten minutes to deliver the baby’s shoulders after the head was delivered. Immediately following birth, the child’s arterial cord ph was measured at 6.95, and his arterial cord BE was measured at 12.4 – both figures indicating the possible presence of severe metabolic acidosis caused by oxygen deprivation during birth. Moreover, the newborn weighed in at 9 pounds 4 ounces, well in excess of the approximation rendered by the sonogram.

Following this difficult birth, the baby was transferred to a nearby NICU center, where he remained for 26 days. He suffered seizures and a host of other problems during his time in intensive care. As well, the child suffers from “severely torn” brachial plexus nerves and will likely require extensive surgery to regain the full use of his shoulder and arm.

Family contends negligence by hospital staff

According to the complaint, the doctor, midwife, and nurses substantially deviated from accepted standards of medical care within the obstetric realm, resulting in severe and permanent damage to their child. The plaintiffs point to the mother’s high-risk pregnancy status, particularly her prenatal weight gain and likelihood of delivering a macrosomic (large) baby. In sum, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants were negligent by failing to prepare for the birth of the child, and his resulting Erb’s Palsy could have been possibly avoided through a C- section delivery or additional safety measures.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages of $10 million to cover the costs of treating their child, as well as an additional $2 million to account for the pain and suffering endured by the parents in the wake of these alleged medical oversights.

Presently, the child requires speech and physical therapies to help correct his disabilities. He will also likely require extensive nerve grafting to restore mobility in his arm and shoulder.