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Parents of Stillborn Baby File Birth Injury Lawsuit

ultrasound on pregnant woman

The parents of a stillborn baby have filed a birth injury lawsuit against the United States of America, the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the Tennessee healthcare system that provided care to the mother and child.

The mother’s due date was August 15, 2012. She visited her doctor and was presenting complaints of Primigravida — a woman who is pregnant for the first time. Her OB/GYN scheduled a follow-up appointment for six days later, on August 21, 2012.

The following day, August 16, 2012, the mother experienced unrelieved abdominal pain and was told to go to the emergency room for evaluation. She did as told and informed the staff that her due date was the previous day and that she had been experiencing contractions 10 minutes apart for three hours. The mother was evaluated by staff and from the hospital’s labor and delivery unit.

Details of medical malpractice claim

The mother continued to insist that something was wrong and requested an ultrasound, but instead she was discharged and ordered to follow up with her doctor several days later, on August 20, 2012. It’s important to note that her medical chart contains fetal monitoring strips for the mother that contain questionable decelerations that required continuous fetal monitoring that the medical team allegedly failed to provide. The claim refers to this as “a breach of the standard of care constituting medical negligence,” which contributed to the chain of events that ultimately led to the death of the mother’s baby boy.

After her discharge, the mother’s symptoms continued to worsen. On August 17, she called the health service and spoke to an “after-hours nurse” on an hourly basis. She was instructed to report to the medical center only if her symptoms became unbearable. Around 7pm, she reported to the center, where she was examined again and diagnostic tests were run. At this time, she learned that her unborn child had died. She was then admitted for demise delivery and observation.

Stillbirth malpractice lawsuit seeks damages

The medical records indicate that the fetal demise at 40 weeks and 5 days followed a suspected placental abruption. The lawsuit claims the failure of the medical center staff to instruct the mother to report to the facility and to make the necessary arrangements for her admission and notification to the on-call physician was a “breach of the recognized standard of care constituting medical negligence that caused and/or contributed to the chain of events resulting in the fetal demise of the unborn child.”

The teaching surgeon providing care to the mother noted there were no gross abnormalities on the baby, the cord or the placenta.

“Plaintiffs contend that the care providers acted with less than or failed to act with ordinary and reasonable care in accordance with such standards, and as a proximate result of the care providers’ negligent acts or omissions plaintiffs suffered injuries which they would not have otherwise occurred,” states the claim.

The claim notes that both parents have suffered emotionally and physically from the loss of their unborn son and are still in mourning.

Stillbirth causes

Fetal death that occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy is referred to as stillbirth. Most stillbirths take place before labor commences. Common causes of stillbirth include birth defects, placental issues, poor fetal growth, infections, chronic health conditions in the mother and umbilical cord accidents. Other uncommon causes can include trauma, postdate pregnancy, Rh disease and a lack of oxygen during a difficult delivery.

Parents cope with a stillbirth differently, but may find it helpful to join a support group for parents who have experienced a similar pregnancy loss.

  1. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee — Western Division, Ashley Darling and Mark Burnett vs. The United States of America

  2. March of Dimes, Pregnancy Loss