Infant Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in Talbot County, Maryland

Beck v. University of Maryland Shore Regional Health, Inc.

Filed January 21, 2016

Jurisdiction
  • Talbot County
Defendants
  • University of Maryland Shore Regional Health, Inc.
  • A Cambridge pediatrician
  • A Betterton radiologist
  • An Easton radiologist
  • An Easton surgeon
Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

This is a tragic infant wrongful death case. A baby boy is delivered by C-section at 38 weeks 1 day. The mother requests during the open C-section that her fallopian tubes be tied.

Defendant doctor is called by a nurse approximately four and a half hours after delivery. The doctor is made aware by the nurse that the baby has O2 saturation of 97-99% with occasional grunting. These are normal levels of O2 saturation; anything less than 92% is cause for concern. However, the Defendant is notified by the nurse approximately 2 hours later that the O2 saturation has dropped to 86%. Defendant does not examine the child.

Instead, he orders a chest x-ray, which he fails to review until 4 hours after it is performed. The x-ray reveals a pneumothorax- an abnormal collection of air and gas in the lungs. By the time the x-ray is reviewed, the baby has begun to exhibit a significant amount of respiratory distress.

5 hours and 25 minutes after the first x-ray, a second x-ray is performed. The x-ray shows increasing left pneumothorax. Plans are made to intubate the baby for transport to a level 3 NICU.

The defendant doctor and a respiratory therapist both attempt two times to intubate the child and both fail. During this period of time, no pain or sedative drugs are provided to the child. After these 4 failed attempts, an anesthesiologist is finally able to intubate the child.

As the child's respiratory efforts continue to decline, a total of 6 additional x-rays are performed. Resuscitation efforts are performed in the course of which multiple chest tubes are placed, removed, and/or repositioned after each of the x-rays.

Approximately 18 hours after his birth, the child has respiratory failure and succumbs to death.

The parents filed a lawsuit against University of Maryland Shore Regional Health and the Defendant doctors in Talbot County. The parents allege that the Defendants violated the standard of care by (1) failing to evaluate the child's respiratory distress in a timely manner, (2) failing to review x-rays in a timely manner, (3) failing to diagnose and treat the patient in a timely manner, (4) failing to properly intubate in a timely manner, and (5) failing to manage to alleviate or reduce pain and suffering in a newborn undergoing six documented intubations and the placement of approximately five chest tubes.

Negligence
  • Child During Delivery Failing to evaluate the child's respiratory distress in a timely manner
  • Failing to review x-rays in a timely manner
  • Failing to diagnose and treat the patient in a timely manner
  • Failing to properly intubate in a timely manner
  • Failing to manage to alleviate or reduce pain and suffering in a newborn undergoing six documented intubations and the placement of approximately five chest tubes.
Specific Counts Pled
  1. Wrongful Death
  2. Survival Action
Plaintiff's Experts and Areas of Specialty
  • James Rost, M.D.: a licensed physician in the state of Maryland board-certified in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. Worked as a neonatologist in both Level 2 and Level 3 nurseries for 15 years.
  • Darren Buono, M.D.: board-certified in radiology.
Additional Comments
  • The expert reports are vague as to who is negligent for what. But the gist of the reports is that negligence was everywhere. One expert even makes a point of referencing breaches in the standard of care unrelated to the child's death.
  • You can expect the defendants to argue that even if there was negligence - and four hours is a long time for a child whose oxygen levels fall to 86% -- the child would have died anyway. The surgeon who could not intubate the child will have the strongest causation argument. It is hard to access the merits of that defense without seeing the medical records.
  • The biggest challenge in this case may be that Talbot County is a tough jurisdiction to try a medical malpractice case. But a good case is a good case and if the facts are truly as plaintiffs have alleged, this is a strong case.
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