Doctor, Hospital Sued Over Death of Newborn

The following article appeared in The Legal Intelligencer Suburban on February 11, 1998.

By Victoria Rivkin (Special to The Legal)

The parents of a deceased newborn, {names omitted}, filed a medical malpractice suit earlier this month against three defendants whose actions they claim killed their infant and physically and emotionally harmed the mother.

Named as defendants are {Dr. name omitted}, an obstetrician and gynecologist who delivered the baby; {physician group name omitted} in Drexel Hill, where {Dr. name omitted} worked; and {hospital name omitted}, where {Dr. name omitted} delivered the plaintiffs’ son.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Leonard A. Sloane of Media filed the suit on behalf of the {name omitted}. Sloane declined comment beyond the complaint.

The plaintiffs allege in their lawsuit that the defendants failed to properly monitor and treat {name omitted} during delivery and failed to properly care for her deceased child, {name omitted}.

According to the complaint, on Jan. 12, 1997, {name omitted}, a resident of Upper Darby, who was then 41 weeks pregnant, went to {Dr. name omitted} office because she started having contractions.  After concluding that {name omitted} was in labor, {Dr. name omitted} sent her to {hospital name omitted} for delivery, the suit says.

A couple of hours after {name omitted} was admitted to the hospital, a fetal heart rate monitor indicated that the baby was becoming distressed, the complaint says.

According to the lawsuit, despite signs of fetal distress and an abnormal fetal heart rate, {Dr. name omitted} ordered labor including oxytocin/pitocin to be administered to {name omitted}.

An epidural anesthetic was given to {name omitted} for her pain and a catheter was inserted into her uterus, the complaint says.

The heart monitor indicated the baby was suffering from fetal distress for four hours, according to the complaint, when {Dr. name omitted} concluded that {name omitted} should have a cesarian section.  However, at that time, the hospital’s cesarian section room was being used by a different patient, says the complaint.  The hospital did not make another room available for the procedure, the suit says.

{Dr. name omitted} had {name omitted} resume pushing for another 65 minutes until the cesarian room was available, the complaint says.

“During the more than one hour of pushing, the baby showed ominous signs of severe fetal distress,” the lawsuit says.

After almost 10 hours, {Dr. name omitted} performed the cesarian section and the baby was delivered “flaccid and cyanotic with no heart rate,” the suit says.  The newborn was transferred to the intensive care unit where he was pronounced dead.

According to the complaint, “The medical monitoring equipment showed, and it should have been extremely evident to {Dr. name omitted}, that the infant was in acute distress and was dying from lack of oxygen.”  The suit says.

The {name omitted} are suing the hospital for “failing to make a second cesarian section room or operating room for emergency procedures.”  They are also suing {Dr. name omitted} for “failing to have an emergency cesarian section team available with the proper equipment to perform a cesarian section in any other appropriate location in the hospital.”

The complaint also says a tear in {name omitted} uterus was discovered during the cesarian section, which, the plaintiffs’ claim, occurred because of improper insertion of the uterine catheter.

The {name omitted} claim that because of the tear in her uterus and the allegedly improper medical treatment by the defendants, {name omitted} will never be able to deliver a baby again.

The {name omitted}, individually and as administrators of their deceased son’s estate, are asking for damages in excess of $50,000 from each defendant, as well as punitive damages.

“Plaintiffs have suffered extended pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, extreme embarrassment, and humiliation and were actually present to view the neglect practiced by the defendants,” the suit claims.

They are also suing for “financial loss, including funeral expenses and medical bills,” according to the suit.