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Botched Delivery Lawsuit Falls Short due to Missing Health Records

infant in NICUAn Indiana woman who claims malpractice led to permanent injuries for both her and her daughter has been unable to take legal action against the hospital allegedly responsible for the errors. Health records on the delivery were missing for many years, leaving the mother unable to get information about her daughter’s injuries.

When the records finally appeared years after the child’s birth, Indiana statute of limitations prevented the mother from filing a botched delivery lawsuit against those responsible.

High risk pregnancy, no C-section performed

The delivery in question occurred at IU Health Methodist Hospital on October 29, 2004. Prior to this date, the mother’s pregnancy had been classified as a high-risk pregnancy after her water broke at 24 weeks. The physician overseeing the mother’s care had also determined the baby was more than 10 pounds and a Cesarean delivery would be required to ensure a safe and healthy birth process. When the mother presented at Methodist, she told hospital staff to call her physician to come and perform the C-section.

However, according to the mother, a midwife at the hospital refused to call her doctor. It was not until the fetal monitoring alarms began to go off that the midwife left the room to get help with the delivery. At that point, the mother claims the baby was stuck in the birth canal and deprived of oxygen. Upon delivery, the baby was silent and was taken away to the neonatal intensive care unit. The mother was also attended to, as extensive tearing during delivery left her with permanent damage.

No medical records available

Today, the 10-year-old girl still has limited use of her arms, due to injuries suffered at her birth. She also suffers from short-term memory problems and a wandering eye. However, when school administrators tried to get medical records on the child to determine what her specific needs would be, hospital records were not available.

Nearly 10 years after the child’s birth, her medical records were finally obtained by Wayne Township Schools. The records showed that the newborn suffered a brain injury, seizures, respiratory failure and hemorrhaging, due to her traumatic birth. With that information in hand, the mother of the injured child made the decision to file a malpractice lawsuit against UI Health Methodist.

Lawsuit denied due to time limits

Unfortunately, the lawsuit was not valid, since the timing for the filing exceeded the statute of limitation on medical malpractice in Indiana. The state puts a limit of two years on individual lawsuits and six years to file on behalf of an injured child. Because it took nearly 10 years to obtain copies of the child’s medical records, the statute of limitation had already passed.

Sadly, this is not the only claim of brain injury at birth attributed to this hospital system in recent years. Attorneys are representing four other mothers claiming malpractice during delivery led to their children’s injuries. Another lawsuit was filed against HealthNet, the healthcare system to which UI Health Methodist belongs, by a former director of women’s services for HealthNet, Dr. Judith Robinson.

Dr. Robinson went public with concerns that the hospital system was allowing midwives to handle high-risk pregnancies that should have been managed by actual physicians. After the deliveries, physicians would sign off on the patient records to ensure they would receive full payment for services. According to Robinson, the health system benefited financially from this arrangement, since midwives typically charge less for their services than physicians.

The federal lawsuit filed by Robinson alleges lack of physician involvement contributed to serious birth injuries, including permanent brain damage, and the death of one mother.

  1. WTHR, Babies at Risk: Mother Claims Botched Delivery and Missing Health Records,

  2. USA Today, Lawsuit Accuses Ind. Hospital, Midwife Network of Fraud,

  3. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, What are the Factors that Put a Pregnancy at Risk?

  4. National Conference of State Legislatures, Medical Liability/Malpractice Statutes of Limitations,