Featured on November 15, 2013 in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette was Keches Law Group’s most recent medical malpractice settlement for $4.25 Million
Per Suzanne CM McDonough, this case involves a 4 year-old girl with a significant brain injury. She was born at UMass Medical Center on 07/15/09. The defendant is the obstetrician who managed the plaintiff’s labor and delivery.
On 07/13/09, the plaintiff was admitted to UMass Medical Center at about 2:00 a.m. with contractions. The admitting doctor decided to induce labor. The induction would go on for more than two full days before delivery by cesarean section.
By the end of the next day, 07/14/09, the plaintiff was still a long way from delivery – her cervix was only 4 cm dilated. Induction continued into the 15th.
On 07/15/09, at around 1:30 a.m., a resident doctor determined that the plaintiff was fully dilated and should begin pushing, however, when the defendant obstetrician examined the patient, he found that she was not yet fully dilated and the pushing stopped. At this time, the baby’s head was swollen and face-up with the occiput of the baby’s head pushing into the mother’s spine.
Later, the defendant obstetrician wrote that the plaintiff “demanded” a cesarean and that he “hesitated to accede to her request.” He then spent 20 minutes convincing the plaintiff to persevere for two more hours of labor. The cesarean delivery would not actually occur for nearly four more hours.
An hour before delivery, fetal heart rate variability diminished. Remarkably, the fetal monitor was then disconnected for the last 50 minutes before delivery.
The baby was born at at 5:25 a.m. on 07/15/09. Within hours, she began to have seizures. Brain imaging studies showed that hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy – brain damage from decreased oxygen. The plaintiffs’ claim is that this brain damage was inflicted in the last few hours of labor and should have been avoided.
Today, at age 4, the minor plaintiff is totally dependent on others for care. She does not talk. She cannot walk. She cannot tend to her own personal needs in any way.
The plaintiffs claimed that the defendant obstetrician was required to accede to the plaintiff’s demand for cesarean section, rather than spend 20 minutes convincing her to change her mind; that notwithstanding the demand, the defendant was required to perform cesarean section when it was clear that labor progress had stopped; and that the defendant was required to keep the plaintiff on the monitor right up to the time of delivery. The plaintiffs contend that had the defendant done these things, the baby would have been delivered before the infliction of any brain damage.
The defense contends that the minor plaintiff’s brain damage was inflicted in utero, at some time before she was under the care of the defendant. Both sides were prepared to call expert witnesses to testify at trial.
The case settled for $4,250,000.00 before a trial date was assigned.