Trauma/Brain Damage and Medical Malpractice
Defendant was a large urban hospital with a busy labor and delivery department. It operates a clinic and a residency program for prospective family practice physicians. A 19-year-old mother gave birth to a baby, who sustained severe brain damage at birth due to hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy related to a botched delivery by an inexperienced first year family practice resident physician. The first-year resident was a hospital employee and was subject to continuing oversight by board-certified family-practice physicians for prenatal issues, labor and delivery. However, during labor the fetal heart rate monitor showed the baby was suffering from lack of oxygen in his bloodstream due to a prolonged delivery. The first-year resident failed to inform the attending doctor about the difficult birth and a cesarean section (C-section) was not performed. The baby was born blue and lifeless. Shockingly, a full neonatal resuscitation team was not present at the time of delivery. As a result, the baby was not intubated until 4 minutes of life. The attending doctor did not attend the birth; arriving 5 minutes after the delivery, 43 minutes after the mother began pushing and 1 hour and 15 minutes after being called. Because of the medical malpractice and failure to perform a C-section, the baby suffered catastrophic brain damage, the direct result of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy and developmental delay.