Case #1079: Cesarean Section
On February 9, at approximately 7:34 p.m., the Plaintiff presented to the Defendant Hospital at 41-3/7 weeks gestation in labor. At 7:55 p.m., the Plaintiff was having contractions every 4 minutes with a 4-5 centimeters dilatation. At that time, the Plaintiff was admitted for delivery as she had reached the active phase of the first stage of labor.
It is alleged that thereafter, the Plaintiff’s first stage of labor was negligently permitted to become exceedingly prolonged, followed by a second stage of labor which was shockingly long. It is alleged that a pregnant mother must progress in labor through the first and second stages at an acceptable rate. The first stage of labor is essentially measured by the progression of dilatation of the cervix to full dilatation at 10 centimeters. Here, it is alleged that the Plaintiff suffered a dramatic arrest in the first stage of labor which lasted from well before 7:55 p.m. on February 9, 2002, when she was already 4-5 centimeters, through the next morning when she finally reached 10 centimeters — well beyond the permitted range of time. However, after finally reaching the second stage, she was likewise unable to progress in an acceptable fashion.
It is alleged that the standards of care required the second stage to be completed by 2 hours, such that the baby is delivered by that time. However, as with the first stage of labor, there was an ongoing arrest in the second stage of labor. It is alleged that these Defendants and each of them persisted in forcing a vaginal delivery to the point that the second stage of labor took between 5-7 hours (depending upon whose notes are read in the hospital chart), when the standards of care only permit the mother to continue in labor during the second stage for 2 hours. Thus, these Defendants succeeded in more than doubling (or more than tripling) the acceptable time frame for delivering this child vaginally. Additionally, it is alleged that they permitted the Plaintiff to labor extensively in the face of ongoing Pitocin — a drug utilized to artificially augment the forces of the contractions and the stress and distress imposed upon the baby.
Additionally, at approximately 8:00 a.m. on February 10, these Defendants noted the formation of caput — a significant swelling in the baby’s scalp due to an arrest in descent and ongoing labor. Further, it is alleged that at 10:40 a.m., these Defendants noted that the baby was in an occiput posterior position with a deflexed head — a finding which absolutely mandates cesarean section rather than a vaginal birth.
Thus, it is alleged that these Defendants and each of them, all of whom attended the Plaintiff at one time or another, continued with their negligence through a prolonged first stage of labor in violation of the standards of care; through a prolonged second stage of labor in violation of the standards of care; through the formation of caput indicating a failure of descent as well as an arrest of labor; and finally ignored the occiput posterior position of the infant with the deflexed head which additionally mandated a cesarean section. It is alleged that all of these findings required a cesarean section in accordance with the standards of care which was ignored on an ongoing basis.
Finally, when these Defendants persisted in forcing the vaginal delivery, shoulder dystocia was encountered with excessive and inappropriate traction utilized to extricate the baby from the birth canal — in violation of the standards of care. As a direct and proximate result of the negligence of these Defendants and each of them, the Infant Plaintiff suffered a severe brachial plexus injury resulting in an Erb’s Palsy, which rendered her permanently disabled.
Had these Defendants and each of them conformed with the applicable standards of care, a judiciously timed cesarean section would have been accomplished and the child removed from her mother’s womb in a normal and healthy condition–having suffered no brachial plexus or Erb’s Palsy whatsoever.
It is alleged that the Infant Plaintiff has in the past, is presently and will in the future continue to suffer excruciating physical pain, emotional anguish as well as fear, anxiety, humiliation and embarrassment over her condition. Her right arm has been rendered useless as the result of the negligence of these Defendants, and she will not grow to enjoy a normal childhood or adulthood as the result. She will be prevented from engaging in the normal activities of children and adults, and will be precluded from obtaining the gainful employment which her peers will enjoy through the course of her work lifetime. In sum, it is alleged that these Defendants and each of them, through their negligence, destroyed the quality of the Infant Plaintiff’s life. She will in essence be forced to go through life as a one-armed person in a two-armed world.