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Woman Sues Doctors for Brain Injury After Fetal Distress Ignored

What would you do if you were in the midst of delivering your child and you thought something was wrong? Ideally, you wouldn’t have to worry, because your doctors and nurses have you hooked up to a variety of machines that are keeping track of how you and your baby are doing. They have years of training; you just have a feeling.

It’s always a tragedy when something goes wrong during birth, but it’s especially heartbreaking when medical staff may have missed obvious signs that the delivery wasn’t going well. A St. Louis-area woman has just filed a lawsuit against the obstetrician and the certified nurse midwife who delivered her daughter, along with the hospital where she was born. She believes they ignored clear signs of fetal distress but took no action. As a result, she claims, her daughter was born with a catastrophic brain injury.

As a result of the doctor and nurse’s failure to deliver her in a timely fashion, the lawsuit claims, the little girl will never lead a normal life. She won’t be able to walk, talk or work, and she is apparently severely cognitively impaired. It is likely she will never be able to live without assistance, and the brain injury will likely require tens of millions of dollars in medical care.

Press reports do not make clear exactly what the hospital may have done, but hospitals are often held partially liable for in malpractice cases brought against the medical professionals who work there. While no specific allegations were mentioned, the theory may be that the hospital failed to properly supervise the work of the doctor and nurse midwife or of other staff involved. Or, the lawsuit may allege the hospital was negligent in allowing the doctor or the nurse to work there, if it turns out that there have been previous instances of malpractice.

Birth injuries caused by medical malpractice are among the most heartrending of cases for many reasons. Not only do they represent a tragedy when something wonderful was expected, but they also leave parents with questions for which there may never be satisfactory answers. A child’s life has been irretrievably damaged, perhaps by the negligence of a medical professional. Grieving parents are often left with no option but to file lawsuits to cover the immense financial costs and to get the answers they need.

Source: The Madison-St. Clair Record, “Obstetrician and midwife accused of failing to timely deliver infant,” Kelly Holleran, May 2, 2013