GBS Infection Birth Injury Lawsuit

Reyes v. University of Maryland Faculty Physicians

Baby in the ERThis birth injury claim was filed in Baltimore City after a pregnant woman received inadequate prenatal care and her baby suffered a delayed GBS diagnosis. It was filed in Health Claims Arbitration on February 21, 2018, and it is the 87th medical malpractice case filed in Maryland this year.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

A pregnant woman receiving obstetrical care from the University of Maryland Faculty Physicians was a carrier for Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria. When she went into labor, the woman was admitted to St. Agnes Hospitals. Neither the physicians at the University of Maryland nor at St. Agnes provided the woman with any antibiotics to keep her baby safe from the bacteria.

On her third day of life, the woman's baby was transferred to the Emergency Department at St. Agnes. Despite the baby's symptoms, she was still not provided with antibiotic therapy. Finally, after she was transferred to the Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital one week later, the baby's diagnosis of GBS infection, sepsis, cellulitis, and meningitis was confirmed. The delayed diagnosis and treatment caused the baby to experience a severe shock to her nervous system, resulting in permanent neurologic injury.

Additional Comments
  • Group B Strep (GBS) is a common bacterium present in about 25% of all healthy women. GBS bacteria are typically harmless to adults, but pregnant women can pass on the bacteria to their unborn child, causing serious illness. Because GBS bacteria are so common, all pregnant women should be tested for GBS at some point between 35-37 weeks of every pregnancy. If the test is positive, IV antibiotics should be administered to the mother during labor and delivery.

  • Only one out of every 200 babies born to mothers with GBS will become infected, experiencing signs and symptoms including breathing problems, fever, difficulty feeding, lethargy, and/or irritability. Mothers who have early labor or rupture of membranes, fever during labor, or a urinary tract infection during pregnancy are at greater risk of delivering a baby with GBS.

  • Both the OB/GYNs and the emergency room physicians in this claim made significant errors that led to the baby's injury. It is not clear whether or not the mother was tested for GBS during her pregnancy, but either way, her OB/GYN definitely did not provide antibiotics during labor and delivery. The risk of passing GBS bacteria on to a newborn decreases from one in 200 to one in 4,000 if antibiotics are administered. Then, the ER doctors failed to recognize the baby's symptoms and diagnose her with GBS in a timely manner, exacerbating the effects of the infection.

Jurisdiction
  • Baltimore City
Defendants
  • A obstetrical and neonatal physician
  • A neonatal physician
  • A pediatrician
  • University of Maryland Faculty Physicians, Inc.
  • University of Maryland Medical System Corporation
  • St. Agnes Healthcare, Inc. d/b/a St. Agnes Hospital
  • CEP America - Maryland, LLP
Hospitals Where Patient was Treated
  • St. Agnes Hospital
  • Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital
Negligence
  • Failing to employ adequate diagnostic procedures and tests.

  • Failing to promptly assess the nature and severity of the baby's medical status.

  • Failing to diagnose and Group B streptococcal disease and infection in a timely manner.

  • Failing to carefully and thoroughly evaluate the effects of any chosen interventions and adjust in response to evaluations.

  • Failing to communicate with or request the services of a competent neonatologist, pediatrician, or pediatric infectious disease specialist.

Specific Counts Pled
  • As a direct result of the defendant's negligence, the baby experienced a severe shock to her nerves and nervous system, pain, mental anguish, unnecessary procedures and medical expenses, and a loss of future earning capacity.

  • The defendants failed to obtain appropriate informed consent from the baby's mother.

Plaintiff's Experts and Areas of Specialty
  • Bruce Ferrara, M.D., pediatrics and neonatal-perinatal medicine (neonatology)
  • Diane Sixsmith, M.D., emergency medicine
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