Medical Malpractice Case Report: $3,160,000 for failure to deliver fetus in setting of fetal distress

Firm partner Terry L. Wade of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. secured a medical malpractice settlement of $3,160,000 for catastrophic injuries to a newborn after a failure of Dr. to deliver fetus after continued signs of fetal distress. Read the following Minnesota Association for Justice Minnesota Case Report:

Selected Results*

(Excerpts taken with permission from Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association's (MTLA) "Minnesota Case Reports")  

A 26-year-old woman who was pregnant with her first child was admitted to the hospital on 12/30/01 at 10:00 p.m. with ruptured membranes.  The doctor was contacted and ordered Pitocin to augment labor, which was started on 12/31/01 around 1:15 a.m.  Around 4:10 a.m., the doctor was updated regarding the fetal monitor tracing that the nurses were concerned about.  The nurses had turned the Pitocin off.  Following the update, the doctor ordered the Pitocin to be restarted.  At 5:30 a.m., the nurses were in contact with the doctor by phone regarding the fetal monitor strip and progress of the labor.  The strip looked flat with several decelerations and the nurses were concerned. 

Around 6:20 a.m., the doctor reviewed the strip.  There were decelerations to the 60s and an order to increase the I.V. fluids given by the doctor.  Pitocin was again running during that time. 

Around 7:15 a.m. the day nurse called the doctor to review the strips as she was also very concerned regarding the well-being of the fetus.  The doctor wrote to continue the Pitocin in spite of the fetal monitor strip.  At 7:30 a.m. the same nurse again contacted the doctor to review the strips. The doctor informed the nurses to continue with expectant management of the delivery. The nurse continued to be very concerned.  At 8:30 a.m. the doctor performed a sterile vaginal examination, continued with the Pitocin and ordered an amnioinfusion.  Late variables were seen and the doctor placed a scalp electrode.  At 9:00 a.m., the mother attempted to push.  A vacuum extractor was attempted three times, however, the fetus was wedged tight into the pelvis so an emergent c-section was performed and the baby E was delivered at 9:53 a.m. 

Baby E was admitted to the local children’s hospital with a diagnosis of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.  The baby was sent home with hospice home care in January of 2002.  He was not expected to survive.  After six months, a gastrostomy was placed.  He is considered to be in a vegetative state.  Baby E’s life expectancy is extremely limited.  Defendant’s life expectancy expert opined that E has a remaining life expectancy of between 3 and 4.6 years.  The baby requires 24-hour care. 

Settlement:                 $3,160,000
Case Name:                E and Family v. Dr.
Date of Disposition:      April, 2004
Attorney:                     Terry L. Wade