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GBS Group B Strep Birth Injury Lawsuits

Doctors examining babyGroup B streptococcus (beta-hemolytic streptococcus, Group B Strep, or GBS) is a gram-positive coccal bacterium that has long been recognized as the leading cause of neonatal sepsis in the United States for the last forty years. 

Neonatal infection occurs in as many as 1 in 3200 live births, causes serious morbidity and mortality, and leaves many survivors with permanent sequelae 

GBS is a bacterial infection that can affect infants before and during labor and delivery. GBS is a frequent source of medical malpractice lawsuits because too often doctors and nurses miss the signs that the infant is suffering from a GBS infection that was passed to the child before or during childbirth.

More than 25% of women carry Group B Streptococcus (GBS), a bacteria that poses little risk of serious disease to the mother. Most Group B Strep carriers do not know they are carriers. So women can carry GBS in their vagina and pass on the infection to their newborn before or during birth.

Doctors Must Take GBS Seriously

 Although more women have GBS than ever, it has long been a scourge on newborns long before the invention of the microscope and an understanding of bacteria as a cause of disease. GBS was called puerperal fever and it was a major killer of newborn infants. 

Today, it continues to be a feared risk to infants although it is easily prevented proactively by IV antibiotics, usually penicillin, during labor and delivery. Before birth, giving the mother antibiotics is transfer to the baby via the placenta. If a patient does have a Group B sepsis infection, the sooner you treat the child, the more benefit they will receive from that treatment

Ultimately, GBS is an infection. It is imperative that any infection is recognized and properly treated because the active immunologic capacity of the neonate is compromised compared to that of older children and adults, and failure to do so can cause death and permanent injury.

Origin of Many Group B Strep Birth Injury Lawsuits

Many Maryland doctors can get lax in part because most babies with GBS-positive moms do fantastic. So is the vast majority of cases, the delivery goes off without a hitch. But on the rare occasion when things do you wrong, the results a life-changing. Ten percent of infected babies develop a disability and five percent die. 

Group B Infection Settlements and Verdicts

Below are stories of GBS birth injury cases around the country and the ultimate settlement or verdict in that case. It is impossible to ascertain the settlement value of these cases with statistics or case studies like this because every case is so very different.

  • 2018: Illinois $9,000,000 Settlement: Doctors at OB/GYN practice fail to give standard Group B Strep screening tests during week 35-37 of pregnancy as part of their routine prenatal care. One of their pregnant patients is carrying GBS and it goes undetected because no prenatal screening is performed. She passes the GBS infection onto her baby when she is born. The infection causes extensive damage to the baby’s brain leaving her with major cognitive impairments such that she will never progress past a 1st-grade level and require lifelong supervision. Mother sues doctors on behalf of baby alleging negligence per se based on their failure to comply with ACOG standards which require routine GBS screening at 35 weeks regardless of risk factors. Case settles out of court for $9 million.  
  • 2016: Washington, $5,500,000 Settlement. Mother is admitted to the hospital in labor. The labor is complicated slow progress, maternal fever, and Category III fetal heart strips. The boy is delivered by C-section. He needs to be resuscitated and is sent to the NICU. He is diagnosed with HIE. Cultures from the placenta found GBS. Plaintiff’s claim the infection should have been caught soon and the boy should have been delivered earlier.

  • 2016: Nevada, $7,500,000 Settlement. Mother known to be Group B Strep positive is under the care of a midwife to deliver her son at home but is transferred to the hospital when the baby has tachycardia and the mother has a fever, all telltale signs of an infection. The baby is born by C-section after prolonged fetal heart rate decelerations and approximately 30 minutes after the C-section order (10 minutes should be the outer limit). The child does not receive resuscitation until about 20 minutes after delivery. The child suffered hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy with a related seizure disorder during his birth. The lawsuit alleged the OB violated the standard of care by failing to order an emergency C-section and by failing to give the mother antibiotics.

  • 2010, Illinois, $29 Million Verdict. The mother goes to the hospital after her water breaks. The mom had GBS but does not get antibiotics. The GBS infection spreads to the child’s brain, causing spastic quadriplegia and cerebral palsy. Plaintiffs’ lawsuit alleged that the mom’s Group B Strep infection and the baby’s symptoms mandated antibiotics that would have prevented the brain injury.

These big verdicts and settlements are in cases where the child survives and has permanent mental and physical impairments.  Wrongful cases where the baby dies from a Group B Strep infection usually do not lead to compensation payouts in the ranges you see above.  

Getting a GBS Birth Injury Attorney

Infections like GBS can infection, meningitis, and lifelong injuries for innocent victims. If you believe that you or your child may have had poor care during childbirth, call our Maryland birth injury lawyers at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation. Our birth injury law firm handles cases not only in Maryland and Washington, D.C. but throughout the country.  

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