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Lawsuit Alleges Boy’s Brain Damage at Birth Due to Negligence

scales and gavelA nine-year-old boy from North Carolina, along his mother as his natural guardian, has filed a birth injury lawsuit against a New York hospital seeking compensation for his ongoing medical care.

He filed the complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York on January 20, 2016, It names the New York-based Samaritan Medical Center, a certified nurse midwife (CNM), an obstetrician, and an obstetrical practice as defendants.

Lawsuit alleges midwife mismanaged labor

The lawsuit describes a long and traumatic labor attended by the midwife instead of the obstetrician. According to the complaint, the plaintiff’s mother arrived at the medical center before 10 a.m. on January 29, 2007. She was overdue, at 41 weeks and one day gestation and the defendant CNM admitted her to induce labor.

According to the lawsuit papers, the mother “was noted to have an unfavorable cervix” but was given Misoprostol to ripen it. Hospital staff hooked her up to a fetal monitor and by that evening it detected irritability in her uterus; the CNM ordered more misoprostol. Her water broke the next afternoon and the amniotic fluid contained meconium, which could be a sign that the baby was experiencing fetal distress and could also increase his risk of infection later. The medical staff ordered Pitocin and about four and a half hours later, the CNM began instructing her to push.

Baby deprived of oxygen during labor

After more than an hour of pushing, the mother continued to show signs of uterine irritability and extreme intrauterine pressure. At nearly 10 pm on January 30, 2007, the obstetrician arrived and delivered the baby with the use of a vacuum.

The child had his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck at delivery and his APGAR scores were 2 at one minute, 4 at five minutes, and 6 at 10 minutes after birth. A score below 7 means that the baby needs medical attention.

By the next morning, the infant was treated for seizures. The following day, he was moved to a hospital in Syracuse where a CT showed damage to his frontal lobe. He was ultimately diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (a type of brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation) and expects to need lifelong medical care for permanent neurological deficits.

The complaint alleges:

  • Medical malpractice by the CNM for breaches of the standard of care that included her management of the unfavorable cervix, administration of Pitocin, instruction to push, and failure to call for a doctor.
  • Medical malpractice by the obstetrician that allegedly included failing to timely attend to the mother, improper use of Pitocin, failure to monitor the labor, failing to recognize and treat uterine hyper-stimulation, improper use of the vacuum, and failure to supervise the CNM.
  • Medical malpractice by the obstetrical practice for failing to train and supervise the medical staff.
  • Medical malpractice by the hospital based on a vicarious liability theory.
  • Failure of all defendants to obtain informed consent from the plaintiff about the risks and complications of the delivery.
  • Gross negligence and reckless conduct warranting punitive damages to deter future misconduct.

The plaintiff is seeking $30,000,000.00 in damages.