Sepsis Infection Birth Injury Lawsuit

Beasley v. Shady Grove Adventist Hospital

This is a birth injury case filed on behalf of a child in Prince George's County. The claim alleges that the Shady Grove Adventist Hosptial failed to diagnose and treat a GPS infection that led to sepsis that caused catastrophic injuries to a now four-year-old child. It was filed in Health Claims Arbitration on August 3, 2016, and is the 381st medical malpractice case filed in Maryland in 2016. The court case number is CAL16-30133.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

A pregnant woman goes to Southern Maryland Hospital (SMH) in preterm labor. She has a Group B Strep Infection (GBS). A GBS bacterial infection that can be found in a pregnant woman's vagina or rectum. She has been receiving prenatal care in Pennsylvania, so her GBS status is unknown to the doctors and nurses at SMH. She is around 25 weeks pregnant, and two doses of betamethasone are given to her. Betamethasone is a tocolytic drug that is intended to help delay delivery.

But her son is born and transferred to the NICU at Shady Grove Hospital as a precaution due to his prematurity. His lungs are hyperinflated and diffusely hazy. His X-rays show regular pulmonary opacities suggesting hyaline membrane disease and apnea. 

Within the first few days, he begins to have trouble breathing, experiences desaturations and periods of bradycardia. X-rays continue to be done, his heart rate drops, and his oxygen saturation eventually improves with intubation. His right lung seems to be improving according to the chest X-rays, but a head ultrasound reveals a grade I intraventricular hemorrhage on the left.

The baby is intubated again for persistent apnea spells and unstable glucose. A chest X-ray shows right and lower lobe aeration disturbance, and internal development of right middle lobe opacification, suggestive of atelectasis. Over the course of a few days he is intubated multiple times for episodes of bradycardia and apnea. Labs are done each day, some of which reveal high white blood cell counts, an obvious sign of infection. The labs report staphylococcus aureus along with possible pneumonia.

A chest tube is placed in the infant to treat the pneumothorax, and his condition improves over a few days and the chest tube is removed. An echo shows moderate to large intracardiac mass, consistent with vegetation, and an ultrasound shows bilateral grade I hemorrhages and an increase in the size of his left-brain bleed. The doctors read this as showing bilateral periventricular leukomalacia. He is finally transferred to Children's National Medical Center for additional care.

The plaintiffs' lawsuit alleges that serious bacterial infection must be a differential diagnosis for any newborn infant who presents with the signs that child had. As a result of the inadequate care the infant received, he has respiratory distress syndrome, leukomalacia, hemorrhage, cognitive impairments, neurological disabilities, conscious pain and suffering, and other damages. He will be dependent on others for his life and will continue to undergo serious and painful medical procedures.

Additional Comments
  • Every birth injury case is a complicated case. But the core of this lawsuit is quite simple. Plaintiffs' medical malpractice lawyers and experts will contend that the breach of care by not restarting antibiotic therapy and assume the child has sepsis. Antibiotic administration during labor to a GBS colonized mother produces a 30-fold risk reduction in the incidence of early-onset GBS infection. That statistic is eye popping. So the gist of this birth injury lawsuit is had had the doctors given the child Vancomycin and Gentamicin three days earlier, the child would have had a different outcome.
  • Assuming that the plaintiff can demonstrate the doctors this breach of the standard of care, the big issue is going to be causation. A child born at 25 weeks is more likely to suffer some permanent injuries. Because this little boy was so premature, he was already at high risk for facing the many various risks that preemies have. This child already had a Grade 1 brain bleed.
  • On the other hand, an article published in the Journal of Perinatology in 2008 summarized a review of the data in the literature on the survival of very preterm babies like this child. The study found that the majority of infants born at or beyond twenty-five (25) weeks' gestation and with a birth weight of greater than 600 grams, survive. Most importantly to this case, at least 50% were found to do so without severe long-term disabilities. This child is on the young end of that care but probably on the high end when it comes to APGAR scores oxygenation levels.
  • If there is a finding that the early use of adequate antibiotic treatment would more likely than not have prevented the severity of this child's GBS infection, the doctors made a bad situation worse. The question is whether plaintiffs' malpractice lawyers will be able to thin slice out how much worse.
Jurisdiction
  • Prince George's County
Defendants
  • Child During DeliveryPediatrix of Maryland PA
  • Pediatrix Medical Group of the Mid-Atlantic
  • Pediatrix of Maryland, P.A.
  • Adventist Healthcare Inc.
  • Shady Grove Adventist Hospital
  • Four doctors individually
Hospitals Where Patient was Treated
  • Southern Maryland Hospital
  • Shady Grove Hospital
  • Children's National Medical Center
Negligence
  • Failed to exercise the degree of care and skill that a reasonably competent hospital/health care provider would have exercised
  • Failed to monitor the infant's clinical condition
  • Failed to respond to lab results and imaging results
  • Failed to start antibiotic therapy
Specific Counts Pled
  • Medical Malpractice
Plaintiff's Experts and Areas of Specialty
  • Mark R. Schleiss, M.D. - board certified in pediatrics and pediatric infectious disease
More Information on GBS Birth Injury Lawsuits

A pregnant woman goes to Southern Maryland Hospital (SMH) in preterm labor. She has a Group B Strep Infection (GBS). A GBS bacterial infection that can be found in a pregnant woman's vagina or rectum. She has been receiving prenatal care in Pennsylvania, so her GBS status is unknown to the doctors and nurses at SMH. She is around 25 weeks pregnant, and two doses of betamethasone are given to her. Betamethasone is a tocolytic drug that is intended to help delay delivery.

But her son is born and transferred to the NICU at Shady Grove Hospital as a precaution due to his prematurity. His lungs are hyperinflated and diffusely hazy. His X-rays show regular pulmonary opacities suggesting hyaline membrane disease and apnea. Within the first few days, he begins to have trouble breathing, experiences desaturations and periods of bradycardia. X-rays continue to be done, his heart rate drops, and his oxygen saturation eventually improves with intubation. His right lung seems to be improving according to the chest X-rays, but a head ultrasound reveals a grade I intraventricular hemorrhage on the left.

The baby is intubated again for persistent apnea spells and unstable glucose. A chest X-ray shows right and lower lobe aeration disturbance, and internal development of right middle lobe opacification, suggestive of atelectasis. Over the course of a few days, he is intubated multiple times for episodes of bradycardia and apnea. Labs are done each day, some of which reveal high white blood cell counts, an obvious sign of infection. The labs report staphylococcus aureus along with possible pneumonia.

A chest tube is placed in the infant to treat the pneumothorax, and his condition improves over a few days and the chest tube is removed. An echo shows moderate to large intracardiac mass, consistent with vegetation, and an ultrasound shows bilateral grade I hemorrhages and an increase in the size of his left-brain bleed. The doctors read this as showing bilateral periventricular leukomalacia. He is finally transferred to Children's National Medical Center for additional care.

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