Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed Against St. Agnes
Filed January 20, 2016 (apparently settled in 2017)Jurisdiction
- Baltimore City
- A Glen Burne/Baltimore OB/GYN
- Two nurses
- Saint Agnes Healthcare, Inc. d/b/a Saint Agnes Hospital
- Saint Agnes Healthcare, Inc. d/b/a The Women's OB/GYN Group
- Seton Medical Group, Inc.
This is a birth trauma medical malpractice action involving the negligent obstetrical care of an Anne Arundel County woman that resulted in permanent neurological injuries to her child.
A vaginal exam is performed at 4:36 a.m. The exam shows that the woman has bulging membranes and is 6 centimeters dilated. Another vaginal exam is performed at 6:23 a.m. following a drop in the woman's blood pressure and several minimal variability decelerations in the fetus' heartbeat. The woman still has bulging membranes and is now 6.5 centimeters dilated. An anesthesiologist is called, who provides the woman with a dose of ephedrine.
At 7:05 a.m. the woman comes under the first Defendant nurse's care. Over the next 1 hour and 25 minutes, the fetus' condition continues to deteriorate. At 8:30 a.m. the Defendant doctor assumes care for the woman and performs a vaginal exam. The woman is 7 centimeters dilated. Following the exam, the Defendant doctor ruptures her membranes (breaks her water).
At 9:54 a.m. the woman calls out to a nurse that she is feeling vaginal pressure and contraction pain. Another vaginal exam is performed at 10:00 a.m. The woman is now 9.5 centimeters dilated. Throughout all of these assessments, the fetus' heart rate has continued to have early decelerations and decreased variability. The nurses and doctors should have recognized that to prevent injury to the fetus, it needed to be delivered promptly.
However, at 11:08 a.m. the epidural is re-dosed by the Defendant doctor to delay the labor process. It is not until 1:15 p.m. that the Defendant doctor orders the woman to begin pushing. The woman continues through labor with no rest to evaluate the fetal heart tone (FHT).
The second defendant nurse assumes care for the woman at 2:33 p.m. She notes that the fetus is experiencing tachycardia at 3:30 p.m. However, she and the Defendant doctor continue to allow the woman to push.
At 3:55 the NICU is called to the delivery room after the fetus' FHT drops significantly. A baby girl is delivered at 4:12 p.m. and is immediately handed off to the NICU. Upon delivery, the baby displays no respiratory effort, has poor muscle tone, and requires intubation. The next day, she begins to suffer unusual rapid breathing and abnormal arm and leg movements.
St. Agnes can no longer provide the care the baby requires, so she is transferred to Hopkins. The baby remains at Johns Hopkins for 19 days. Multiple brain MRIs and EEGs are performed. The baby has brain damage and suffers seizures.
The baby's parents file a medical negligence lawsuit in Baltimore City, alleging that the Defendants violated the standard of care by failing to (1) recognize the signs of fetal distress and properly respond to those signs, (2) properly interpret the mother's symptoms and limit her number of pushes between contractions, and (3) properly monitor the labor progression, recognizing the fetus' deteriorating condition and providing proper medical intervention. As a result of the Defendants' negligence, the child has sustained extreme pain and suffering and has suffered serious and permanent injuries.Negligence
- Failed to recognize signs of fetal distress and properly treat
- Failed to properly interpret the mother's symptoms and limit her number of pushes between contractions
- Failed to properly monitor labor progression, recognizing the fetus' deteriorating condition and providing proper medical intervention
- Medical Negligence: Against doctor and nurses
- Respondeat Superior: Against Saint Agnes Hospital (Physicians and Nursing Staff), Saint Agnes Hospital, The Women's OB/GYN Group, and Seton Medical Group, Inc.
- Jane Payne, BSN, RNC, C-EFM: registered nurse licensed to practice in Virginia since 1985. Certified in inpatient obstetrics and electronic fetal monitoring by the NCC. An AWHONN fetal monitoring instructor as well as an instructor in neonatal resuscitation.
- Jeffrey C. Hammer, M.D.: an OB/GYN at the Virginia Center for Women
- The key to any case like this is going to lie in the electronic fetal monitoring ("EFM") strips. The EFM is the primary tool healthcare practitioners use to evaluate the status of a fetus in utero. The EFM places a belt around the mother's abdomen. The belt has two sensors that pick up the baby's heart rate and the mother's contractions. The results are sent to a computer that shows the findings. The computer also typically projects the sound of the tracings.
- The merits of this case are hard to ascertain from the Complaint. The expert report from the physician expert is a single page and there is no mention of the specific extent and scope of the injury.
- The challenge of bringing a claim against the nurses in these types of cases is the fact that there is a doctor right there directing the care. One of the allegations of negligence against the nurses is the failure to report the condition of the child up the "chain of command" when the nurse saw the deviation in the standard of care. That may be a hard sell to a jury.
- 2019 Update: This case, defended by Pessin Katz Law, P.A. for the hospital, appears to have settled before trial.
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