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Delayed C-Section Caused Infant’s Brain Damage, Mother Claims

newborn in intensive careA mother recently brought a lawsuit against the Naval Medical Center at San Diego, claiming that because of the alleged negligence of the attending healthcare staff, her son was born with severe and permanent injuries, including brain damage that has led to significant functional impairments.

The medical malpractice lawsuit was filed late in September 2015 and it is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. Because the healthcare facility in question is a government-operated, military facility, the complaint names as the defendant the U.S. government. On behalf of herself and her child, the plaintiff is demanding $15 million in compensatory damages, which includes past and future medical expenses.

Mother had a high-risk pregnancy

According to the lawsuit, the mother went to the Naval Medical Center at San Diego for labor and delivery on February 26, 2013. She had been experiencing contractions for about two hours and vaginal bleeding for about four hours. She also reported that she had noticed a decline in the number of fetal movements. The plaintiff was admitted to the hospital for the evaluation of the possible premature separation of the placenta. At the time, she was at 33.5 weeks of gestation. Because of her current medical issues and because she had a previous history of two premature births, the mother was considered to have a high-risk status. However, according to the lawsuit, she was not monitored continuously despite the risks to her child’s health.

On the morning of February 28, the mother’s medical records indicated that there was an immediate need to deliver the child. The attending staff noted this urgency at 8:00 a.m. However, according to the lawsuit, “the physicians and nurses inexplicably waited until nearly 10:45 a.m. to deliver (the child) by C-section.”

Child has suffered permanent physical injuries

The mother claims that the defendant should be held liable for her child’s injuries, which she alleges is the direct result of the avoidable delay in performing a C-section. The child was diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which refers to oxygen deprivation to the brain. The oxygen deprivation to the brain led to “permanent cerebral damage and attendant deficits,” which the mother argues would have been prevented if a C-section had been performed in a timely manner.

The child’s specific impairments were not disclosed in the complaint. However, brain damage can lead to a variety of challenges that can last a lifetime. HIE can result in organ dysfunction, including dysfunction of the lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys. Infants with HIE are at an increased risk of suffering seizures.

As a child with brain damage grows older, parents are likely to observe impaired motor function, delayed growth, and delayed developmental milestones.

The mother is demanding $15 million in damages to compensate herself and her child for physical pain and suffering, as well as emotional anguish. Her lawsuit points out that her minor child will likely require care for his lifetime, potentially incurring significant medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity.

  1. Medscape, Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy,

  2. MyChild, Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy, or HIE, also known as Intrapartum Asphyxia,